HHS SBIR PAR-10-154
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-10-154.html
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
Innovative Neuroscience K-12 Education
1. Research Objectives
The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a framework to enhance cooperative activities among the NIH Office of the Director and 15 NIH Institutes and Centers that support research on the nervous system (for further information, see http://neuroscienceblueprint.nih.gov/). This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is released in affiliation with the Neuroscience Blueprint, with Institutes and Centers participating independently. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications from small business concerns (SBCs) that propose to develop innovative neuroscience educational tools to be used by or benefit children in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12). Educational tools can be designed using any media (e.g., paper, electronic, web-based, etc.) or format (e.g., simulations, games, videos, teaching toolboxes, etc.) for use in or out of school settings, targeting children in groups or alone, with or without adult or teacher participation. Innovative neuroscience educational tools should promote neuroscience knowledge acquisition and application of that knowledge to one’s own life, promote an interest in neuroscience learning and careers, and present a positive and realistic representation of the diversity of people who engage in neuroscience-related research and occupations. Educational tools targeted to increase the diversity of students (i.e., Native American, Black, Hispanic, female, disabled, or otherwise underrepresented) pursuing neuroscience learning are especially encouraged.
Neuroscience is the study of the peripheral and central nervous system, including the brain, sensation and perception, cognition, emotions, and behavior. Many allied science domains contribute importantly to the neuroscience field, including biology, psychology, anatomy, chemistry, genetics, physics, anthropology, pharmacology, informatics and computer sciences, zoology, developmental sciences, bioengineering, medical sciences, and physiology. Because neuroscience incorporates so many scientific domains, neuroscience learning provides a significant platform for basic and fundamental science learning, including learning scientific methods, observation, experimentation, analysis, evaluation and reasoning.
Neuroscience careers contribute importantly to the U.S. economy. Medical and allied health professional careers depend on neuroscience advances for providing new treatments and prevention of many of the major medial conditions now affecting the American public, such as Alzheimer’s dementia, stroke, pain disorders, obesity, alcohol and other substance abuse disorders, depression, autism and other mental health disorders, and most developmental disorders. The pharmaceutical and biomedical industries require neuroscientists to aid in new drug/technology development and safety testing. Educators and policymakers rely on neuroscience findings to provide evidence-based support for educational initiatives and interventions.
With neuroscience permeating such diverse areas of importance for all Americans, it is essential that the U.S. public better understand what neuroscience is and how neuroscience research can contribute importantly to their understanding of these issues. Early exposure to neuroscience concepts and findings may enhance this goal and advance the aims of this funding opportunity.
U.S. students are underachieving in international assessments of science knowledge and understanding. In response, in November 2009, the Office of the President launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, a nationwide effort to move American students over the next decade from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. The present FOA compliments this Presidential initiative to advance science learning and reasoning in K-12 children.
This underachievement is especially pronounced in minority, disadvantaged, and disabled students. The representation of these disadvantaged groups in higher levels of science training is likewise disproportionately low, with neuroscience training following similar patterns. Further, beginning in early adolescence, girls from all cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups are less represented in science courses, activities and career paths, despite comparable performance to boys in assessments of learned science material. Nearly half the U.S. workforce is female, yet less than one quarter of U.S. scientists are women. Although not required, applicants responding to this funding opportunity are encouraged to address one or more of these disparities in neuroscience interest and learning.
The presentation of diverse (cultural, racial, gender, ability, and life roles) populations engaged in neuroscience learning, activities, and research may facilitate the goal of attracting diverse children to neuroscience learning. Providing diversity of role models is an important strategy for enhancing interest and motivation, these are important goals of this funding opportunity announcement.
Applications appropriate for to this announcement will:
- evelop innovative neuroscience educational tools for K-12 children. Tools should use learning strategies appropriate to the age of the target learners; not all grade levels must be targeted by any one project.
- Promote application of neuroscience knowledge and scientific reasoning to self and one’s own life/understanding of the experienced world.
- Promote neuroscience interest and careers.
All applicants are strongly encouraged to address how their proposed tool will:
- Promote interest in and motivation for neuroscience learning in diverse groups of children, especially those children from underrepresented groups.
- Present a diversity of persons (gender, race, culture, ability, life roles) engaged in learning, applying, and/or conducting neuroscience research (as appropriate to the developed tool).
Key to a successful application will be the use of innovative learning/teaching strategies. Proposals that replicate existing traditional teaching strategies but using neuroscience content will be judged of lower priority. This FOA encourages proposals grounded in learning theory and experimentally-derived evidence, but using exciting and innovative strategies. Applicants are strongly encouraged to explore what tools and strategies are already under development and/or are available in order to assess their own innovativeness before proposing their own tool. Government funded websites that may be especially helpful in this background search include, but are not limited to:
- NIH RePORTer (http://report.nih.gov/)
- NIH Science Education Nation (http://science.education.nih.gov/NIHSciEdNation)
- ScienceEducation.gov (http://www.scienceeducation.gov/)
- National Science Foundation (http://nsf.gov/)
- U.S. Gov for Science (http://www.science.gov/)
Broadly conceived neuroscience learning is more appropriate to the goal of this funding opportunity announcement than are disease- or condition-specific tools. For example, while the pharmacology of substance abuse may be an excellent platform for learning several neuroscience principles and has applicability to a child’s life, this focus would be judged too narrow. On the other hand, this FOA encourages a tool that addresses multiple neuroscience topics such as neuroanatomy and neuropharmacology, and then references substance abuse as an example.
Although process evaluation (e.g., number and types of children exposed to the developed tool, how many children identified “liking” the tool, hours spent using the tool, number of communities implemented the tool, breath of information presented by tool, etc.) is important, this FOA encourages applicants to also plan for and conduct an outcomes evaluation that will use objective measurement (e.g., level of new learning as a result of developed tool, change of attitude/interest in neuroscience career, ability to use learned information in novel example of decision making, etc.)
Educational tools can be designed using any media (e.g., paper, electronic, web-based, etc.) or format (e.g., simulations, “serious” games, videos, teaching toolboxes, etc.). Although classrooms are often thought of as the most typical placement for learning tools, learning occurs in many environments where the “teacher” may not be a physically present adult. Applications need not be confined to classroom or school-based teaching tools or tools that address children in a group setting. Nor are developed tools required to engage an adult in the learning process, although engagement of a parent, teacher, older sibling, or other person in the child’s life may be viewed as a valuable addition. Whether or not engaging adults in the learning process, this FOA encourages tools that successfully engage and motivate the child learner. In all cases, because the SBIR mechanism requires a marketing plan, how children will be accessed and who other essential persons are who can facilitate or inhibit access to those children and are the potential purchasers of the tool, should be carefully considered and addressed.
Although not an exhaustive list, the following are illustrative examples of proposals that would be considered appropriate for to this funding opportunity announcement:
- Virtual reality tour of brain mechanisms involved with learning and memory and/or their changes across the lifespan
- Serious game teaching about action potentials, neurotransmission, and motor function
- Teaching toolbox for hands-on neuroscience experiments for K-3 students
- Interactive web page education on developmental neuroscience
- Video/documentary on environmental influences on the brain, behavior and emotion
- Interactive whiteboard exploration of sensation and perception
- Educational computer games about neuroplasticity and neurodegeneration
See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.