LEAPS Boilerplate Text for NSF Proposals – Broader Impacts


Context: [Note to PIs: If you have multiple activities, consider this section to be context for all of your strategies and have multiple strategy headings below. Also consider adding stats specific to your discipline/area of study] 

Our most pressing global challenges, such as climate change, an aging population, crumbling infrastructure, and cyber threats, requires multi-decade solutions and a future STEM workforce with the skills to innovate. This requires building up an extensive pool of STEM talent and must include individuals and communities who have historically been and continue to be excluded, underserved, or underrepresented. Experts recommend fostering student’s interest in STEM at the middle school level due to this “... crucial cognitive and social developmental period in which interests, future goals, and one’s self-image undergo significant metamorphosis [ref 1].” Middle school is a critical time where STEM identity is forming, and experiences with STEM concepts and activities outside the classroom has been found to build self-efficacy and increase interest in those subjects [ref 2&3], especially for girls [ref 4&5]. 

UCI is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and this federal designation aligns with UCI’s status as a national leader and global model of inclusive excellence. UCI was recognized for its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts with the 2021 STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change Bronze Award from American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). UCI’s current (AY23-24) undergraduate ethnic underrepresented minority (URM) enrollment is 31%, and over 40% of all undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. Within the School of Physicals Sciences is the Office of Access, Outreach and Inclusion (AOI) that advocates for equitable and inclusive policies across the School, responds proactively to barriers of inclusion, and works collaboratively with campus partners and the neighboring community to create pathways to success for all school citizens. 

Strategy: LEAPSLaboratory Experiments and Activities in the Physical Sciences – is an informal community-based STEM outreach program run by the School of Physical Sciences that brings local middle school students from underserved communities to the UCI campus. LEAPS offers students a “Day at College” experience and the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of university students and faculty. During their visit, the middle school students spend two one-hour sessions in active research labs doing hands-on activities in areas such as chemical reactions and properties of matter, condensed matter physics, atmospheric chemistry and earth systems, renewable energy, and biophysics, and afterwards have lunch at the freshman dormitory commons and a tour of the campus. The objectives of LEAPS is to increase students’ awareness and understanding of the physical sciences, to learn about the opportunities that exist for them, to help them visualize their lives as students at a university, and to increase their STEM identity and interest.   

[Please personalize this more based on what you will be doing: Ideas to highlight: 1) Overview of the activities you intend to do with learning objectives, 2) Students experience in your activities, such as working in teams (small groups rotated through stations) and individually, 4) How the activities are related to your proposed research?, 5) Who are the students/postdocs that are participating and any relevant backgrounds?, and 6) How are you mentoring these students/postdocs on good teaching practices?] 

Target Audience: Middle school students (7th and 8th graders) from Santa Ana Unified School District, which has a student population of over 93% that identify as Latinx.  

Resources: LEAPS is run out of AOI with a full-time staff member, Ash Hormaza, to manage the logistics.  

Prior work: Below is a summary of past broader impacts activities of the PI/team. [Please discuss past LEAPS involvement, other relevant outreach involvement with outcomes, and if you are currently in a position to make institutional change.] 

Evaluation and Dissemination: Programs administered by AOI are evaluated by staff consistent with strategies identified in NSF’s “Principal investigator's Guide: Managing Evaluation in informal STEM Education Projects” [ref. 6]. The LEAPS program is currently assessed by evaluating the impact the program had on the students with a post-event survey. The questions ask about what science content was new and what was learned, what was the most enjoyable part of the day, how they perceive themselves as scientists, and what questions were left unanswered; these free response questions are used to assess perceived levels of achievement in specific goal areas (e.g., increase of knowledge and skills, increase in identification as a scientist). The survey results are used by UCI faculty and staff to evaluate and improve the program, and the information is not disseminated outside of UCI.   



[1] Elif Ozulku & Matthew Kloser (2023) Middle school students’ motivational dispositions and interest in STEM careers, International Journal of Science Education, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2023.2234778 

[2] Young, J. R., Ortiz, N. A., & Young, J. L. (2017). STEMulating interest: A meta-analysis of the effects of out-of-school time on student STEM interest. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 5(1), 62-74.DOI:10.18404/ijemst.61149 

[3] Shaohui Chi & Zuhao Wang (2023) Students’ science learningexperiences and career expectations: mediating effects of science-related attitudesand beliefs, International Journal of Science Education, 45:9, 754-780, DOI:10.1080/09500693.2023.2175184 

[4] Leammukda, Felicia (2024) “Fostering STEM interest in middle-school girls through community embedded integrated STEM.” Journal of women and minorities in science and engineering. 30.2: 59–87. DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2023039905 

[5] Kang H, Calabrese Barton A, Tan E, Simpkins S. D., Rhee H‐y, Turner C. How do middle school girls of color develop STEM identities? Middle school girls’ participation in science activities and identification with STEM careers. Science Education. 2019;103:418–439.https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21492 

[6] Center for Advancement of informal Science Education. (2011). Principal investigator's Guide: Managing Evaluation in informal STEM Education Projects. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.informalscience.org/evaluation/evaluation-resources/pi-guide. 

Additional references to consider:  

UCI student data: https://datahub.oapir.uci.edu/ 



LEAPS: Suggested Budget and Budget Justification 

Direct cost: $2,500 per event. It is recommended to budget 1-2 events per award.  


Participant Support (60 participants): $1,250 

Certified transportation for Santa Ana students (to and from UCI): $1,250 

Ensures safe transportation of students and teachers (to and from UCI), and is based on historic costs.  


Other Direct Costs:  

Laboratory Experiments and Activities in the Physical Sciences (LEAPS): $1,250 

Supplies for the students (e.g. notepad and paper): $250 

Each student is provided with a UCI notepad with information regarding the schedule (paper, a pen to take notes, etc.). Based on historic costs.  

Morning snack: $100 

Each student is provided with a small snack prior to the lab rotations. A good percentage of the students do not have breakfast, which limits their attention span and can be a safety problem.Based on historic costs.  

Lunch: $900 

Lunch is provided to the participants: middle school students, teachers, and parent chaperones. Most students are on the free-lunch program and are unable to bring their own food. Lunch is provided at the freshman dorm cafeteria or catered.On-campus lunch through UCI dining is $15/person (which includes tax).