2019 NSF AISL PI Meeting

It was with great pleasure that the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) hosted the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program Principal Investigator (PI) Meeting February 11-13, 2019, at the Westin Alexandria in Alexandria, VA. All current PIs of NSF AISL and Science Learning+ projects were invited to attend. 

CAISE Director and PI, Jamie Bell, wrote a brief blog summarizing the activities and features of the 2019 NSF AISL PI meeting. Read his full summary here.

Watch highlights from the meeting

The meeting was supported with funding from NSF award #1842633.

View the agenda and other meeting information in our program booklet

Participants were inspired by a talk by keynote speaker Dr. Na’ilah Nasir on Cultivating Learning Identities in the Context of Social Inequality. Dr. Nasir is the president of the Spencer Foundation, a Chicago-based foundation supporting education research. Watch her full keynote below, or on YouTube.

For an overview of the meeting, check back for a blog from CAISE Director and PI, Jamie Bell, that summarizes the activities and features of the 2019 NSF AISL PI meeting.

Monday, February 11

Attendees heard from the NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) in a session on fiscal management of awards. Although DGA’s presentation was not recorded, you can view an October 2018 webinar about preparing effective budgets and budget justifications. It contains similar information to the PI meeting presentation and includes a set of audio-enhanced slides that provides additional context and reminders.

Attendees also learned about current and upcoming funding opportunities from NSF Program Directors. These opportunities are within the NSF AISL program, the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), and beyond. Download the slides.

Tuesday, February 12

As with past PI meetings, CAISE invited participating AISL PIs to organize and lead concurrent sessions on issues, opportunities, and challenges that arise in the process of designing, researching, and evaluating informal STEM learning and science communication experiences, across various settings and approaches.

There were 16 sessions on topics ranging from what equitable and asset-based models of STEM engagement look like to what diverse audiences are teaching us about particular strategies, technologies, and platforms for addressing their learning interests and needs. For many of the sessions, organizers provided the big takeaways and select resources shared from their session in the document below.

The Project Showcase was an opportunity for attendees to meet colleagues, share their work and challenges, and gain a sense of the richness of the NSF AISL portfolio. More than 200 projects were represented at the 2019 NSF AISL Program PI Meeting.

Rather than a typical poster session, this year we tried something new. First, we asked attendees to focus on a specific question or challenge they would most like to discuss with colleagues, rather than a more expansive presentation including their full set research questions, methodology, and findings to date. Several projects have uploaded their poster to InformalScience.org—view them here.

Attendees also had the choice to bring an electronic representation of their project, which was more fitting for those who were creating media, websites, or apps.

And finally, in order to seed deeper conversations among participants, the showcase began with “Affinity Groups” of about 10 people, based on a mix of project attributes, such as audience, setting, and STEM topic, as well as the concurrent session topics. The groups spent a dedicated 30 minutes getting to know each other’s projects and challenges before dispersing into showcase rotations. 

List of Affinity Groups

​Broadening Participation in STEM Institutional Development & Change

Children, Youth, & Teens


Making & Tinkering


Computational Thinking, Math, Engineering, & Computer Science


Design of Exhibits & Experiences


Professional Development & Capacity-Building


Digitally Facilitated Learning, Interactive Media, & Gaming

Public Participation in Scientific Research & Citizen Science

Engaging Scientists & Broader Impacts




Environmental Education & Science in Natural Places


STEM Learning Ecosystems


Evaluation, Measurement, & Innovative Research










































Any questions can be sent to CAISE at caise@informalscience.org.

Return to the main AISL PI Meetings page.