The NCRR Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) program funds novel projects that improve students'(grades K-12), their teachers'and the general public's understanding of science and NIH research. The Program supports the creation of innovative partnerships between biomedical and clinical researchers and K-12 teachers and schools, museum and science center educators, media experts, and other interested educational organizations. Principal investigators and key staff from funded SEPA projects are required to participate in an annual conference - held yearly since the program's inception in 1991 - as specified in the SEPA Program Announcement (PAR-06-549). NCRR staff from Program, Grants Management, Office of Review, and the Office of the Director participates in the conference, as well as appropriate staff from other NIH ICs. A scholarship program enables 14 teachers, school administrators, and Native American leaders to also attend and share their expertise and experiences participating in SEPA projects. The goal of each 2.5-day conference is to provide an opportunity for principal investigators, their staff and evaluators to learn about key developments in the fields of formal and informal science education, to build and strengthen their own knowledge and skills in areas relevant to their projects, to share program successes as well as challenges, and to network and form collaborations. The conference also is the best mechanism for an open and candid discussion between the SEPA PIs and NCRR Staff on SEPA-specific programmatic, review and grants management issues. The impacts of the conference include higher quality projects and project evaluations, and the development of collaborations among projects. The overall objectives of the annual SEPA Conference over the next five years are to:
Specific Aim 1 : Provide updates on trends, issues and challenges in informal and formal science education that are relevant to SEPA science center, museum and K-12 projects.
Specific Aim 2 : Inform and educate the SEPA community about rigorous evaluation models that address the government-mandated (Academic Competitiveness Council) assessment criteria and promote adoption of such models.
Specific Aim 3 : Provide opportunities for grantees to share information, best practices and challenges as well as mentor new projects and form collaborations. The annual conference is held in a different location across the country each year and is attended by approximately 200 participants. It is planned by an Organizing Committee of SEPA PIs, which changes each year. Speakers'slides and videos of plenary sessions are available on the Conference and SEPA websites after each meeting for easy access and dissemination. A comprehensive report provides a summary of plenary and breakout sessions for each conference.
The NCRR Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program supports projects that educate pre-college students, teachers and the public about NIH clinical and basic research. These projects thus play an important role in the translational science process. The annual SEPA conferences facilitate learning, sharing, networking and collaboration among SEPA projects and with NCRR staff, thus enhancing each project's work.