New solicitation for NSF STEM-C: Emphasis on K-12 and Integration with Other STEM Disciplines

January 19, 2015 at 8:06 am 3 comments

The new NSF STEM-C solicitation is out: See http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15537/nsf15537.htm.

The introduction to the new solicitation is visionary and speaks of the power of computing in STEM and for all students.  Here’s just the first paragraph:

The STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Partnerships program seeks to advance a 21st century conceptualization of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that includes computing. The “+ Computing” notation emphasizes that computing is integral to the practice of all the other STEM disciplines. In this solicitation, computing refers to the whole set of fundamental concepts and skills that will allow students to creatively apply and adapt computation across a range of application domains, to “bend digital technology to one’s needs, purposes, and will.”

The focus of this solicitation is primarily on integration of computing with other STEM education disciplines, and secondarily, on computing education in K-12 (including teachers).  The prioritization is pretty clear from the budget limits:

The maximum total budget for Track 1: Integration of Computing in STEM Education awards is $2.5 million for Design and Development awards, $1.25 million for Exploratory Integration awards, and $250,000 for Field-Building Conferences and Workshops. The maximum total budget for Track 2: Computing Education Knowledge and Capacity Building awards is $600,000 for Research on Education and Broadening Participation awards and $1.0 million for CS 10K awards.

You can get up to $1.25M USD to explore integration of computing in STEM ($2.5M to design and develop), but at most $1M to put computing into schools and at most $600K to do research on computing education and broadening participation.  We might argue about the ratios, but in the end, both tracks and all the types of proposals have enough funding to do important work that needs to happen.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Guy Haas  |  January 20, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I agree that the overall intentions are great; sorry to see research on computing education get the least. But integration of simple programming of some sort into STEM courses is something I’ve been hoping would happen for a long time. This should aid transfer as students see computation as a tool, useful everywhere.

    Reply
  • 2. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  January 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    One good target for integrating programming into STEM courses is calculus-based physics. The Matter and Interactions textbook does a good job of adding programming exercises to build simulations of physical systems, including ones that are not possible to solve analytically. (At least, it is good for the mechanics half—the E&M half is rather short on meaningful programming exercises.)

    Reply
    • 3. Guy Haas  |  January 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      nice… Andy diSessa (http://gse.berkeley.edu/people/andrea-disessa) has been researching programming for physics for a long time. At one point he told me he would love to write a physics text with lots of programming content.

      Reply

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