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Opportunities for NASA Visitor Centers, Museums, and Planetariums
August 20, 2014

Posted: August 2014

From the Office of Education, Informal Education Manager at Headquarters



NASA Research Announcement

Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities (CP4SMP+)

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 43.008

Full proposals for NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH13ZHA001N were due April 9, 2013.

Proposers could request a grant or cooperative agreement to support NASA-themed science, technology, engineering or mathematics informal education, including exhibits, within these congressionally directed topics: space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science or microgravity. Proposals from entities outside the U.S. are not considered. For more information about this opportunity visit: https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary.do?method=init&solId={37764C2A-F415-01DF-1B30-F1971BE7F8BE}&path=closedPast

NASA is restructuring its education-related activities in order to streamline and maximize the opportunities it can offer within allocated fiscal resources. As a result, many activities including CP4SMP+ are being restructured or eliminated as they complete their natural period of performance.

In FY 2013, NASA issued the CP4SMP+ NASA Solicitation: NNH13ZHA001N estimating that it would operate through two fiscal years.  This NRA, also known as: “Informal STEM Education,” is one of roughly 40 NASA activities reported as part of the March 2014 Progress Report on Coordinating Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CoSTEM) Education.  NASA Informal STEM Education (or CP4SMP+) has no dedicated funds requested for FY 2014 or beyond.  See TABLE 2: STEM EDUCATION FUNDING IN MILLIONS BY AGENCY AND PROGRAM, FY 2012-2015 at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/STEM-ED_FY....

Starting in FY 2012 NASA’s STEM Education and Accountability Projects, or SEAP, became one mechanism used to reduce program fragmentation through the competitive consolidation of NASA’s Office of Education historic formal and informal education activities (See Table 2 in the March 2014 CoSTEM Progress Report) outside of Space Grant and the Minority University Research and Education Project.  FY 2014 SEAP funds were used to support final selections made under the  NNH13ZHA001N solicitation.  For details of the FY 2015 budget proposal to continue SEAP’s competitive consolidations visit: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/fy15_nasa_budget_education_0.pdf.

SEAP funds may be used to offer NRA or other type competitive broad agency announcements that could be open to NASA Visitor Centers and other informal education institutions, but that will not be offered before FY 2015. Any future SEAP competition and all Office of Education investments will align to:

SEAP competitions and other NASA Education announcements are provided through the NASA Express E-mail service. Visit the following URL to register for this service: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/Express_Landing.html

NASA will continue to monitor informal (and formal) education awards and agreements made in FY 2014 and in prior fiscal years until the individual awards reach the end of their performance or funds are no longer available, whichever comes first.



History of the Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers

In Fiscal Years 2008, 2009 and 2010, Congress reallocated the NASA Office of Education budget to establish "a competitive program as authorized by section 616 of P.L. 109-155 for science museums and planetariums to enhance programs related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science or microgravity." In FY 2008 Congress further advised: "To the extent possible, NASA is urged to use education funds to address the educational needs of women, minorities, and other historically underrepresented groups." (Source: Conference report on › http://thomas.loc.gov   → )

Congress's Appropriations Conference Reports in FY 2008-2010 also reallocated the NASA Office of Education's budget to support "educational activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including exhibits" at NASA centers (including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and the NASA centers' Visitors Centers. Some NASA centers operate their own visitor centers, and others have space act agreements, grants, cooperative agreements or contracts with private commercial firms, local museums, or not-for-profit organizations to support NASA-related informal and formal learning.

Originally entitled the Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums (CP4SMP) in 2008 and 2009, during FY 2011 the NRA was revised and renamed CP4SMP plus Opportunities for NASA Visitor Centers and Other Informal Education Institutions (CP4SMP+). CP4SMP+ is authorized by PL (Public Law) 109-155 SEC. 616. MUSEUMS: "The Administrator may provide grants to, and enter into cooperative agreements with, museums and planetariums to enable them to enhance programs related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, earth science, or microgravity." The predecessor to CP4SMP+ was entitled NASA's Explorer Institutes, or NEI, a small competitive funding opportunity for informal education partnerships primarily with NASA's field centers. Funding for legacy NEI activities such as the Museum Alliance managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, was subsumed in CP4SMP+ and now SEAP.

› Learn more information about the Museum Alliance (http://informal.jpl.nasa.gov/museum)

None of the series of continuing resolutions for the federal budget in FY 2011 provided funds for CP4SMP+ awards. In FY 2012, the Congressional Conference Report and Explanatory Statement provided $138,400,000 for the NASA Office of Education Regarding informal education specifically, the Congressional conferees provided $10 million "for a competitive grant program to fund informal education programs that develop STEM education activities, including exhibits, at qualifying institutions as described in section 616 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-155), and/or at NASA Visitor Centers. In selecting grants, NASA shall prioritize projects according to their links to NASA's missions." FY 2013 began with a continuing resolution and on March 26 President Obama signed a continuing appropriations bill that will keep the U.S. government (including this NRA) running for six months through September 2013. Accompanying the final CR was an Explanatory Statement for the Senate Substitute Continuing Resolution that included “$40,000,000 for the National Space Grant College program and $18,000,000 for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. . . $10,000,000 for a competitive grant program to fund informal education programs that develop STEM education activities, including exhibits, at qualifying institutions as described in section 616 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109–155), and/or at NASA Visitors Centers.”

The excerpted language above was downloaded on April 16 from Senate Appropriation’s website: Explanatory Statement for the Senate Substitute Continuing Resolution: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=0f7f2ddc-d4b2-4991-9417-0169643aabf1.

Three Important notes about Congressional language and funds eventually available for award:

NASA Modified Full Cost: After any President signs any budget into law it takes a few months before each agency receives the final amount available for any program, project or activity, including for CP4SMP+ and now SEAP. NASA provides its budget to Congress in full cost, which means that the amount Congress provides covers all direct costs plus General and Administrative (G&A) costs associated with the program/project. At NASA direct costs include but are not limited to any resulting grants or cooperative agreements, solicitation and review of CP4SMP+ proposals through NSPIRES, and monitoring any existing CP4SMP awards and/or new CP4SMP+ awards. Read about NASA full cost practices at: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ocfo/references/ocfo_fullCost_detail.html.

Given the quantity and quality of past proposals received and to minimize costs associated with proposal submission and review and to maximize the funds available for grants and cooperative agreements, NASA Education typically issued calls for CP4SMP+ proposals every other year. 

Limited information about the FY 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 CP4SMP+ selections can be found on the NASA Museum Alliance website at: http://informal.jpl.nasa.gov/museum/Exploring/index.cfm?FileName=Overview.

Or at the following:

* List of nine FY 2010 grants with short abstracts:
 › Download list   →

* List of nine FY 2009 grants with short abstracts
› Download list   →

* List of thirteen FY 2008 grants with short abstracts
› Download list   →

The list of eighteen FY 2012 selected projects with short abstracts are available at: ›  http://go.nasa.gov/NKC2V0 t   →

The lists of ten FY 2013 and twelve FY 2014 selected projects with short abstracts are available at: ›  http://go.nasa.gov/18U8PAO

Resources Related to NASA Requests for Proposals

To receive emails related to NASA’s entire portfolio of competitive opportunities, including for scientific and technical research, program management and administration, please register with NSPIRES.
› Go to the NSPIRES website   →

While waiting for NASA education to issue a competition for funds, proposal writers may want to look at the following websites for additional information:

NASA's most current Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) or Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN).
› Get the guidebook   →

The Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Informal Science Education Projects was developed after the National Science Foundation hosted cross-federal-agency working group in informal science education evaluation that identified broad categories of potential project impact. These categories can be applied both to projects that target public audiences by means of an informal STEM education or outreach deliverable, as well as to projects that target professional audiences, those who work in the field or directly influence that work.
› Learn more   → (pdf)

Additionally. the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) works in collaboration with the NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program to strengthen and advance the field of professional informal science education and its infrastructure by providing resources for practitioners, researchers, evaluators and STEM-based professionals. For more information or to become a member, please visit: http://informalscience.org/community/users/register

The National Research Council also has published two useful guides:

Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits

› Download free pdf file at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12190

Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments

› Download free pdf file at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12614

NASA Mission Directorates

Proposals to NASA typically leverage unique NASA-based STEM content or mission information. Detailed information about NASA’s four mission directorates -- Aeronautics, Human Exploration and Operations, Science and Space Technology -- is available on the NASA Education website.
› Go to website

Contact information for the Headquarters-based mission directorate education leads is available on the NASA Education website.
› View contact information

Educational Needs of Women, Minorities and Other Individuals From Underrepresented Groups

Applicants to NASA can support diversity and inclusion in many ways. For example, proposers may wish to explore alliances with existing or recent participants in the following program:

NASA Minority University Research and Education Project
Contact: Joeletta Patrick
Phone: 202-358-2370
› Go to NASA MUREP website

A state or regional NASA Space Grant Consortium may be another avenue for ideas about, or funding from, NASA.
› Go to NASA Space Grant website

The Department of Education also maintains lists of institutions that serve predominantly minority institutions, including the following:
› Historically Black Colleges and Universities   →
› Hispanic Serving Institutions   →
› Tribal Colleges and Universities   →

Opportunities of Interest Outside of the Office of Education

Space Shuttles and Related Artifacts
The final space shuttle has landed, but plenty of work is still to come in the transition and retirement of the Space Shuttle Program. NASA has transferred the shuttle orbiter Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, shuttle orbiter Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, shuttle orbiter Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and the shuttle orbiter Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. Museums and other eligible institutions of informal education may have the ability to obtain NASA artifacts via their State Agencies for Surplus Property that have access to the General Services Administration’s automated system GSAXcess.
› Go to the Shuttle to Constellation Transition website
› Get the NASA Space Shuttle Program Artifacts Pamphlet

Other Links of Interest

› Aeronautics
Fostering new generations of highly skilled scientists and engineers is critically important to the aeronautics community.

› Chandra   →
The Chandra site offers a list of resources for museums, planetariums, broadcast producers and other special venues.

› Futuristic Concepts   →
The Mars Image Gallery has image, video and animation collections.

› HubbleSource   →
This site has informal education resources from the home of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

› Infrared Astronomy   →
Keep up with the latest observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope, which views the universe in infrared wavelengths. Visit the "› Cool Cosmos"   → section for education and public outreach information.

› Institute on Climate and Planets
ICP education materials are driven by fundamental questions and topics scientists deal with in climate and environmental research. The lessons and modules are problem-based investigations for middle and high school students.

› Museum Alliance
The Museum Alliance is a free resource for professionals at museums, science centers, planetariums, zoos, aquariums, nature centers and visitor centers at observatories, parks and NASA centers.

› Night Sky Network
Learn how astronomy clubs bring the wonders of the universe to the public.

› Saturn for Museums and More
Educational resources about the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan are available to museums and informal educators.

› Solar System Exploration Events
Interactive calendars showcase what's happening out in the solar system and back on Earth. Included are launches, mission events, anniversaries, celestial events and even a few birthdays.

› Solar System Exploration Resources
Use this site to learn about NASA's educational resources in the area of solar system exploration, and to try fun activities for kids.

› Space Weather Exhibit   →
The unique mission of the Space Science Institute is to integrate scientific research with education and public outreach.

› SunWorks Traveling Exhibit
View the images from the SunWorks exhibit and follow its show tour.

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Page Last Updated: September 8th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Education