Carrie Meisner—Broader Impacts in NSF Proposals
Abstract: “The Broader Impacts Criterion in National Science Foundation grants encourages scientists to actively engage both the public and policy makers in their scientific discoveries. Traditional broader impact strategies incorporating undergraduate science majors and graduate students in the scientific process provides crucial experiences for future scientists, and innovative strategies such as citizen science projects successfully involve larger audiences. However, these broader impact activities generally target people already interested in and knowledgeable about science. We need to do more. We need to insert science in unexpected places in our educational system and society to reach a more diverse audience, engage citizens who may not identify as scientists, and broaden interest and support for science education and research funding.
Our approach embeds a local community college professor familiar with the field area as a PI to design and manage the broader impacts of an NSF grant focusing on the exhumation and uplift of the Ruby Mountain Metamorphic Core Complex in northern Nevada. This strategy increases efficacy – researchers focus on data collection, analysis and interpretation, while the community college professor focuses on communicating the science to a diverse audience and measuring reach through clickstream analytic tools. Importantly, all of the PI’s benefit from one another’s work in a truly symbiotic way. Key to this approach is recruiting and including a multi-disciplinary team of undergraduates in the development and dissemination of instructional materials and establishing the RuGGED (Ruby Mountains Geology, Geochron, and Education) YouTube channel with an interactive geologic map to host filmed-in-the-field tutorials and interviews with noteworthy scientists. In addition, the incorporation of a co-PI with an extensive web of local connections facilitates sharing educational resources with local companies and organizations, the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, and the University of Nevada, Reno.”
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