Educator Features

NASA Explorer Institute: Cooperative Agreement Notice
Front cover of the Explorer Institutes postcard
Image above: NASA Explorer Institutes will represent science centers, museums, planetariums, libraries, parks, aquaria, nature centers, botanical gardens, youth groups and community-based organizations. Credit: NASA
The Informal Education Division is initiating a new national level program called NASA Explorer Institutes (NEI). NEI will provide, " only NASA can," engaging experiences, opportunities, materials, and information to members of the informal education community including, but not limited to, representatives of science centers, museums, planetariums, libraries, parks, aquaria, nature centers, botanical gardens, youth groups, and community-based organizations.

The Goal of the NASA Explorer Institutes Program is to encourage and support projects that:
  • Improve the public's understanding and appreciation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to enhance their scientific and technological literacy, mathematical competence, problem-solving skills, and the desire to learn;

  • Establish linkages that promote new relationships between providers of informal and formal education resulting in improved and creative STEM education in all learning environments;

  • Excite youth, particularly those who are underrepresented and underserved, about STEM disciplines;

  • Expand STEM informal education programs and activities to communities/locations that have been traditionally underserved by such opportunities;

  • Stimulate parents and others to support their children's learning endeavors in formal and informal settings and to become informed proponents for high-quality, universally available STEM education in the home and elsewhere;

  • Encourage and implement innovative strategies that support the development of a socially responsible and informed public who can make responsible decisions about STEM policy issues affecting their everyday lives.
NASA Explorer Institutes (NEI) Program objectives will enhance the capabilities of the informal education community to inspire the next generation of explorers by providing access to NASA staff, research, technology, information, and/or facilities and by:
  • Engaging the informal education community in discussions about how to involve the public in shaping and experiencing NASA-related missions;

  • Identifying NASA-related instructional content, resources, and information, in collaboration with the informal education community, that will enhance informal education program goals and objectives;

  • Providing NASA-related professional development opportunities for members of the informal education community across the nation;

  • Facilitating the formation of collaborative partnerships between informal and formal education communities.
Phase I of the program, NEI Pilot Professional Development Workshops at NASA facilities for members of the informal education community, is currently under underway. Six NEI Professional Development Workshops were selected for funding and will be taking place in September through December of this year.

Phase II of the program, NEI Focus Groups, was released on September 17, 2004. Notices of Intent will be due October 15, 2004 and the proposals are due on November 12, 2004. The Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) can be accessed through this Web site. This NASA Explorer Institutes (NEI) CAN will provide members of the informal education community with an opportunity to compete for funding support to host NEI Focus Groups. The purpose of the Focus Groups will be to assemble experts from the informal education community to further identify strategies and approaches that can be used to effectively implement the NASA Explorer Institutes Program.

The Informal Education Division anticipates that up to ten (10) NEI Focus Groups will be funded via this CAN at a maximum funding level of $50,000 per project.