April 2023 Newsletter

Dear Colleagues,

The DRK-12 program has funded projects that research innovative approaches to providing equitable and high-quality STEM education opportunities to rural students, such as place-based learning, online professional development, lesson study models, and interactive digital tools. Read about the projects featured in our Spotlight on Rural STEM Education to see how they are helping rural students engage in quality STEM education.

We’ve been gathering information about DRK-12 projects through our annual portfolio survey. In this newsletter, we share details about some of the products they’ve developed. We look forward to providing further insights, trends, and characterizations of DRK-12 projects in future newsletters as more projects respond to the survey.

Don’t miss the workshop on developing DRK-12 proposals, led by CADRE co-PIs Terrell Morton and Lani Horn, on May 5 during the virtual portion of AERA 2023. Additionally, members of CADRE’s topical group presented at AERA in anticipation of the release of a report on classroom-based assessment expected early this summer. The implications of the report will be discussed during the 2023 DRK-12 PI Meeting.

Pre-register for the upcoming NSF workshop for Directorate of STEM Education CAREER applicants on May 11. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented groups, and persons with disabilities to apply. View all current funding opportunities in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings.

The CADRE Team

Rural STEM Education | Spotlight

school bus on a rural roadThe projects described in this Spotlight are all connected by the goal of providing equitable and high-quality STEM education opportunities to rural students. Through the development of place-based learning, online professional development platforms, innovative lesson study models, interactive digital learning tools, immersive STEM learning opportunities, and more, each project seeks to provide rural students with meaningful and engaging learning experiences that are grounded in students' local communities and draw on STEM knowledge and practices.

In this Spotlight:

Read the 2019 Spotlight Blog, Featured Projects, and Additional Resources.

Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum of Discovery Research PreK–12 (DRK-12) Awards | AERA Virtual Session

Drs Lani Horn and Terrell Morton

Based on their podcast of the same name, Terrell Morton and Lani Horn will share CADRE resources for writing and refining an NSF DRK-12 proposal at a virtual AERA session on Friday, May 5, 11:30 am–1:00 pm CT (12:30 to 2:00pm ET). These resources include, how to craft a strong project narrative, identify a robust team, build community partners, and develop a worthwhile budget.

Given NSF's goals to diversify its portfolio, this workshop is designed for early career scholars studying at or employed by historically underfunded institutions (e.g., MSIs, R2s, teaching institutions, community colleges). Early and mid-career scholars from underrepresented groups are also encouraged to participate.

2023 Survey of DRK-12 Awards | Preliminary Analysis

Analysis of this year’s survey is underway! Thank you to all who submitted information on behalf of your projects. If you are a PI on an active award and have not yet completed a survey or updated your responses from last year (if applicable), there’s still time to make sure your work is reflected in our characterization of the portfolio for NSF, the STEM education community, and the public. Check your email (or spam folder) for an invitation with your project’s survey link.

Preliminary analysis of this year’s survey data suggests:

  • An increased focus on assessment. Survey data for 2023 include a higher percentage of projects in the assessment strand than last year (2023: 17% vs. 2022: 6%) and identify assessment tools and/or instruments as a research and development focus (2023: 28% vs. 2022: 18%).
  • A decrease in work at the high school level. Data suggest that there may be less work happening in grades 8-12 in the active DRK-12 portfolio than there was last year (2023: 32% vs. 2022: 41%).
  • Projects are using different strategies to engage specific populations. Of the projects that indicated they were engaging one or more underrepresented populations, fewer reported involving these populations in the project’s design (2023: 20% vs. 2022: 33%) and conducting outreach and dissemination to these populations (2023: 21% vs. 2022: 29%), whereas a higher proportion of projects indicated they are working in locations that enable them to engage specific populations (2023: 71% vs. 2022: 63%).
  • Science overtakes mathematics as the most frequently reported disciplinary focus. This year, a greater number of projects report focusing on science (2023: 55% vs. 2022: 49%) than on mathematics (2023: 46% vs. 2022: 51%).

In the survey, projects also shared information about recent and upcoming conference presentations, publications, and other products. We look forward to compiling and sharing the publications in a few months as part of our summer reading list. Below is a sample of the products we’ve received and will continue to promote through our networks of researchers and practitioners.

Journal of Emerging Investigators | NSF #2010333

MoDa: Combining Computational Modeling with Real-World Data Analysis | NSF #2010413

  • MoDa Platform is Web-based platform that supports integrated agent-based modeling and data analysis.

STEM SEALs Program | NSF #1812913

  • STEM SEALs SEA Lectionary is a student guide to the SEA challenge, where students build a boat capable of navigating in the water autonomously and by remote control.
  • STEM SEALs AIR Lectionary is a student guide to the AIR challenge, where students build a remote control for an unmanned aerial vehicle, learn the principles of flight, and learn to fly drones.

Design and Development of a K-12 STEM Observation Protocol | NSF #1812794, 1813342, 1854801

Systems Leadership for Math Improvement | NSF #2200753

TecRocks: Exploring the Connection Between the Rock Cycle and Plate Tectonics | NSF #2006144

  • TecRocks Explorer supports students’ visualization of plate tectonic environments and rock genesis associated with the environment on an Earth-like planet.
  • Earth Rocks Map shows a generalized representation of Earth's geology as well as country borders and tectonic plate boundaries.
  • Rocks & Tectonics Module revolutionizes the teaching of the traditional rock cycle by focusing on the broader relationship between plate tectonics and rock genesis connecting rock types to the tectonic conditions under which they form.

Project Tip: Partnerships in Research

CADRE held a Learning Series on partnerships in research featuring insights from DRK-12 researchers engaged in various types of partnerships. Explore this collection of resources and information from the webinars. It includes slides and advice from the panelists, as well as resources for supporting partnership work. It also includes recommendations for site selection, building and maintaining relationships, managing power dynamics, engaging teachers in the design process, and managing competing demands.


News from NSF

News from NSF Networks
News from DRK-12 Projects and Awardees

Awards & Recognition


Do you have news to share? Email cadre@edc.org.

Upcoming Opportunities

The following funding and publication opportunities, listed by deadline, may be of interest to you and your DRK-12 project members.


For more NSF funding opportunities, see CADRE's list of Upcoming NSF DRL EHR Solicitation Deadlines.


For other publication opportunities, including those with ongoing submissions, see CADRE's list of Publications for STEM Educators, Policymakers, and Researchers.
For more conference information, see CADRE's list of Conferences for STEM Educators, Policymakers, and Researchers.

Career & Professional Development

    For job, funding, and capacity-building opportunities for doctoral students, postdocs, and other early career scholars, visit our Early Career News & Opportunities page.
    A complete archive of our newsletters and announcements is available on cadrek12.org.

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