What is Broader Impacts?
The National Science Foundation has 9 categories of Broader Impacts. They are designed to be broad so that scientists have the flexibility and freedom to design their BI around their interests and complements their research. It is possible to have your project be in more than one category, but it is best not to stretch the project too thinly. Instead, focus on the main principle of your desired goal.
- Full participation with women, person’s with disabilities, underrepresented minorities in STEM
- Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
- Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology
- Improved well being of individuals in society
- Development of a diverse globally competitive STEM workforce
- Increased partnership between academia, industry and others
- Improved national security
- Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
- Enhancement infrastructure for research and education
1. Full participation with women, person’s with disabilities, underrepresented minorities in STEM
Longtime trends show that certain groups of the U.S. population, such as African-Americans, Latinos, women, and people with disabilities are underrepresented in most STEM fields. On the other hand, individuals who identify as White or Asian/Asian-American are overrepresented relative to their percentage of the U.S. population. These discrepancies are the consequences of history and unequal access to education and resources for certain groups.
2. Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
Career scientists can complement existing K-12 curriculum by designing new lesson plans with teachers or by hosting workshops for teachers so that they can witness first-hand how an experiment can play out. Those who are comfortable with students can work directly with them through exploration stations, field trips or lab tours, and school visits.
3. Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology
Hosting a public event like a family science night, a presentation or experiment, an event at a museum, a public lecture or panel can go a long way in changing people’s attitudes about science. The possibilities with this BI category are nearly limitless. Your audience is not only limited to K-12 aged school children, but you can interact with university students, working adults, and entire families. The execution would depend on the setting and your target audience.
4. Improved well being of individuals in society
If you feel strongly that your project can truly improve the lives of people by making them healthier or safer, then try working on describing that benefit very thoroughly to strengthen the applicability to this category. This is easier for some sciences like the engineering fields along with geology, some environmental sciences, space physics, medicine, etc.
5. Development of a diverse globally competitive STEM workforce
The U.S. competes on the world stage with other nations in education and scientific research. Improving the competitiveness of the U.S. in the world of scientific research and spending may include providing funding and research opportunities for students.
6. Increased partnership between academia, industry and others
Academic research has the ability to revolutionize associated industry through new inventions and methods. A market need can inspire the direction of research as some sciences and projects are done with a stakeholder in mind. An example would be improvements in lithium battery storage capacity, improving the solar panel market via cost reduction and improved efficiency.
7. Improved national security
Improving national security encompasses many topics, including cybersecurity to defend the growing Internet of Things and protecting the sensitive personal information of citizens or developing new energy technologies. A good way to understand what may count in this category is to look at the work done by the U.S. Department of Energy.
8. Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
Some projects may result in an improved process or product of some sort, and these can be so much more successful than what already exists that companies quickly adopt it. This category may also tie in very closely with Category 6 if the improvement is widely adopted by more than just the targeted stakeholder.
9. Enhancement infrastructure for research and education
Increasing the capacity for the United States to teach and perform research is included within this category. Creating educational materials that can quickly be universally adopted for multiple uses and audiences, such as handouts for a workshop, guidelines for an event, or specific directions on how to run an event, you are improving other people’s ability to perform some kind of activity.
How can I educate the public on my research?
Below are some examples of events or activities that you can develop and build. These events will help bring your research to life and can showcase your findings on a platform that will educate the public or other members in the STEM community.
Hands-on booth at a public event with the intent being interactivity with the scientist and the public. Activities can be for all ages but mostly target youth and families.
A display in the publicly accessible portion of the WID. Exhibits are based off research done by different labs on campus. Meant to be interactive to give public a first hand experience of the scientific experience that happens on campus.
Presentation of research either yourself or a guest from another institution. Experience communicating your research to a non expert audience where anyone can attend – even members of the public.
STEM Activity Session
An extended STEM learning activity usually between 30-90 minutes in a session (afterschool programs, field trips, etc.)
The grant writing consultation by meeting or walk-in. Project development and connecting scientists with community partners.