NSF Themes and Examples For Beginners

Sample Themes and Example Activities To Get Acclimated To Broader Impacts (BI) For National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposals

Currently NSF has nine recommended areas of BI. They are collectively called NSF BI 1-9. However, before the emergence of these nine areas NSF used five broad areas/themes in relation to their criterion. These five themes and respective example activities serve as a starting point for thinking about different types of BI activities and programs that could be done for NSF proposals.

All things evolve as have the scope, level, quality, and sophistication of BI themes, activities, and programs over the years. That being stated, so too must your BI for NSF proposals. When reviewing these themes realize that they do not cover all the current BI 1-9 motifs. They also do not come close to the almost infinite number of high-quality BI activities and programs that could be completed or developed under each of the current nine recommended areas for an NSF proposal.

For continuity, these old themes and activities have been cross-listed to the current NSF BI 1-9. The old themes only cover part of the current NSF BI number 3 and do not include numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8. For a review of the current NSF BI 1-9 click here.

Old Theme – Advance discovery while promoting teaching, training, and learning, Aligns with NSF BI #2:
• Integrate research activities into the teaching of science, math and engineering at all educational levels (e.g., k-12, undergraduate science majors, non-science majors, and/or graduate students).
• Include students (e.g., k-12, undergraduate science & non-science majors, graduate students) as participants in the proposed activities.
• Participate in the recruitment, training, and/or professional development of k-12 teachers.
• Partner with educators to develop effective means of incorporating research into learning and education.
• Encourage student participation at meetings and activities of professional societies.
• Establish mentoring programs for high school students, undergrads, grad students, or postdocs.
• Involve grad students and postdocs in high school/community college/undergrad teaching activities.
• Develop, adopt, adapt, or disseminate effective models/ pedagogic approaches to STEM

Old Theme – Broaden participation of underrepresented minority (URM) groups, Aligns with NSF BI #1:
• The NSF recognizes women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific
Islanders as underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
• Establish research and education collaborations with URM students and/or faculty.
• Include URM students as participants in the proposed research/education activities.
• Establish collaborations with community colleges, colleges for women, historically black
colleges & universities.
• Mentor early-career scientists and engineers who are from underrepresented groups.
• Participate in developing new approaches (e.g., use of information technology and connectivity) to engage underserved individuals, groups and communities.
• Participate in conferences, workshops and field activities where diversity is a priority.

Old Theme – Enhance research and education infrastructure, Aligns with NSF BI #9:
• Identify and establish collaborations between disciplines and institutions, industry, government, and international partners.
• Stimulate and support the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation, multi-user facilities, and other shared research and education platforms.
• Upgrade the computation and computing infrastructure, including advanced computing resources and new types of information tools (e.g., large databases, networks and associated systems, and digital libraries).
• Develop activities that ensure that multi-user facilities are sites of research and mentoring for large numbers of science and engineering students.

Old Theme – Broadly disseminating results, Aligns with NSF BI #3:
• Partner with museums, nature centers, or science centers to develop exhibits, workshops, hands on demos, etc.
• Involve the public or industry in research and education activities.
• Give presentations to the broader community (e.g., museums, libraries, festivals, science cafes, and radio shows).
• Make data available in a timely manner by means of databases, digital libraries, or other venues.
• Publish in diverse media (e.g., non-technical literature, websites, blogs) to reach broad
• Present research and education results to policy-makers, members of Congress, and industry.
• Participate in multi- and interdisciplinary conferences, workshops, and research activities.
• Integrate research with education activities in order to communicate in a broader context.

Old Theme – Provide Benefits to society, Aligns somewhat with NSF BI #4:
• Demonstrate the linkage between discovery and societal benefit by providing specific examples and explanations regarding the potential application of research and education results.
• Partner with academic scientists, staff at federal agencies, and/or the private sector on both technological and scientific projects to integrate research into broader programs and activities of national interest.
• Analyze, interpret, and synthesize research and education results in formats useful for non-scientists.
• Provide information for policy formulation by federal, state and local agencies.

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