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NSF 22-043

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Supplement Opportunity

February 11, 2022

Directorate for Geosciences
Office of the Assistant Director

Dear Colleagues:

SUBJECT: Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Supplement Opportunity for GEO Principal Investigators on New or Renewal Research Proposals or On-going Research Projects

This letter calls your attention to an activity that supports the participation of K-12 educators and two-year college science faculty in research projects funded by the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) activity is designed to enhance the professional development of science educators through participation in new or on-going NSF-funded research projects. GEO strongly encourages its grantees to make special efforts to identify talented teachers for participation in this opportunity.

RET Supplements may be requested in one of two ways: (1) Investigators with an existing NSF research award may submit a request for supplemental funding; or (2) Proposers may include support for RET activities as part of a new (or renewal) research proposal to NSF. For further guidance and inquiries, including due dates, contact the cognizant program officer for the GEO program that is either currently funding the research, or will consider the new (or renewal) research proposal. The duration of the RET activity will generally be one year or less and the project may be carried out during summer months, during the academic year, or both.

Encouraging active participation of teachers in NSF projects is an excellent way to strengthen the science expertise of our nation's educators. RET Supplements should also lead to collaborative relationships between K-12 and two-year college science educators and the NSF research community. GEO is particularly interested in encouraging its researchers to build mutually rewarding partnerships with teachers from schools with either limited resources or that serve students who are members of groups underrepresented or under-served in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. GEO is also interested in supporting partnerships with teachers who are involved with the GLOBE Program. Mainly through encouraging the classroom use of GLOBE protocols or attending GLOBE trainings, workshops or annual meetings.

The RET Supplement request should clearly articulate, in some detail, the form and nature of the prospective teacher's involvement in the Principal Investigator's on-going or proposed research. The teacher should be involved in a significant research experience and should have the opportunity to be involved in several aspects of the scientific process, such as designing new experiments, collecting and analyzing data, conducting a modeling study, synthesizing information or presenting results of the research. Since it is expected that the RET experience will lead to the transfer of new knowledge into classroom activities, the RET Supplement request should indicate what sustained follow-up will be provided to help in translating the teacher research experience into classroom practice. The request should clearly articulate the process that will be used to identify the teacher. The same requirements would apply for supplements to support involvement of two-year college science faculty in research.

Preparation and Submission Instructions

Supplemental Funding Requests

A supplemental funding request for an existing NSF award must be prepared and submitted via FastLane in accordance with the instructions in Chapter VI.E.5 of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). Supplemental funding requests should include the following information:

  1. a Summary of the proposed work (limited to 3 pages);
  2. a Justification of the need for supplemental funds;
  3. a plan for the teacher to develop classroom activities and lesson plans related to the science, with the support of the science team and/or with support from other education experts at the host institution as a separate section in the project description (limited to 2 pages and uploaded in the Supplementary Documents section);
  4. a separate Biographical Sketch must be included for each teacher and uploaded in the Supplementary Documents section of the supplemental funding request; and
  5. a budget and budget justification for the funds requested.

RET budgets typically include a stipend for the teacher, a travel allowance for the teacher, and up to $2,000 for the cost of materials, equipment, software and other supplies that will be used by the teacher to develop classroom instructional materials may be included as Participant Support Costs in the budget request. Additional funds up to 25% of the total Participant Support Costs listed in the budget may be requested for activities in other cost categories (e.g., salaries, wages and fringe benefits, travel, materials and supplies, and applicable indirect costs) that contribute to the effectiveness of the RET program; any such costs must be listed under the appropriate NSF budget categories and must be explained in the Budget Justification. Organizations should propose in accordance with their current disclosed accounting practices. The total cost of the Supplement is generally limited to $14,500 per teacher.

New or Renewal Proposals

New (or renewal) research proposals that include RET Supplements should include the following documents, uploaded in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal, in addition to the information provided as part of the research proposal:

  1. a summary of the RET activities (limited to 3 pages),
  2. a plan for the teacher to develop classroom activities and lesson plans related to the science (limited to 2 pages),
  3. a separate Biographical Sketch for each teacher, and
  4. a separate budget and budget justification for costs associated with the RET
  5. a separate budget and budget justification of costs associated with the RET.

Normally, funds may be available to support up to two teachers, but exceptions to this guideline will be considered. Participation of teachers who are members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields is strongly encouraged.

Please contact your program officer or with questions about the GEO RET program. RET Supplemental funding requests will be reviewed internally within NSF. Decisions to recommend a supplement request for funding will be made by the cognizant program officer for the program that administers the research award that would be supplemented. Program officers will base their decisions on the merits of the supplement request, the composition of the program's overall funding portfolio, and the availability of funds.


Alexandra Isern
Assistant Director for Geosciences