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Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12)

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NSF 23-596

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports research and development to enhance STEM learning and teaching for preK-12 students.

Supports research and development to enhance STEM learning and teaching for preK-12 students.


The goal of the Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) is to catalyze research and development that enhances all preK-12 teachers’ and students’ opportunities to engage in high-quality learning experiences related to the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program’s objectives are to: (1) build knowledge about how to develop preK-12 students’ and teachers’ STEM content knowledge, practices, and skills; (2) support collaborative partnerships among STEM education researchers,  STEM education practitioners and school leaders with the goals of extending relevant scientific literatures while developing more effective practice; and (3) build the field of STEM education by supporting knowledge synthesis, interdisciplinary interactions across fields and stakeholders, and the development of novel and robust ways of assessing teacher and student learning, engagement, and skills. Outcomes of DRK-12 projects can include but are not limited to promising, evidence-based products that can be used by others to support the success of all teachers and all students (e.g., curriculum, teaching and research tools, and models of collaboration).

The program solicits proposals along two strands: (1) Learning and (2) Teaching. While these strands certainly overlap and have synergy, proposals should identify one strand that is most consistent with the proposal’s objectives and research questions (e.g., are the project’s methods and outcomes focused primarily on teacher development and teaching or student development and learning?). Research project types under both Strands include exploratory, design and development, impact, implementation, measurement and assessment, and synthesis studies. The program also supports other project types including Partnership Development Grants and Workshops/Conferences.

Successful proposals demonstrate how they build on fundamental research in STEM education and on previous or current applied research and development efforts. They also explain their theoretical and empirical justification (e.g., Why is the project designed as it is?) and outline related specific aims and methods with potential to yield new understandings of STEM teaching and learning contexts, processes, and outcomes. The program welcomes proposals focused on teaching and learning in any STEM field(s) and on priorities identified in the National Science Foundation’s strategic plan. Efforts focused on facilitating the reciprocal exchange or mobilization of knowledge between the research and preK-12 formal education professional communities are strongly encouraged (see this Dear Colleague Letter https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2023/nsf23078/nsf23078.jsp).

Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Inquiries can be made to
DRLDRK12@nsf.gov (703) 292-8620

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program