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Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)

Zumo, Zyrobotics LLC’s interactive learning tool for kids, shows sensors underneath its shell.

Program director

Rajesh Mehta headshot

Rajesh Mehta

Pre-submission feedback

Submit an Executive Summary to gauge if a project meets the program's intellectual merit and commercial impact criteria. Please note that responsiveness will likely be limited in the 2 weeks leading up to the solicitation deadline.

Technology topic

Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)

Submitted proposals for education applications should provide detailed descriptions of how the proposed application will work and provide examples of how users would interact with the application and how learning takes place. Projects that can be easily replicated by potential competitors such as curricula, tutorials, and generic content may not resonate with the review community and are not likely to be funded without sufficient technical innovation. Efforts based on similar or existing products or systems offered by the proposer or their competitors are also not likely to resonate well in a review panel.

NSF uses EA topic areas and keywords to help find reviewers familiar with your project’s innovation and commercial potential to help provide you with an objective proposal review. When submitting a proposal to the EA Topic, also indicate the corresponding subtopic where the strongest case for the project’s technical innovation can be made. For example, use EA1 for proposed projects that are in the area of “Pre K-12 Education” followed by appropriate keywords such as K-3, middle school, high school, robotics, reading, math, computer science, and so on.

Education Applications and Technology (EA) Topics

  • EA1. Pre K-12 Education
  • EA2. Global, Distance, and Higher Education
  • EA3. Simulations and Gaming Technologies
  • EA4. Entrepreneurial, Informal, and Maker Education
  • EA5. Information, Computer Science, and Engineering
  • EA6. Emotional Intelligence (EI) Enhancing Educational Innovations
  • EA7. Education & Training for the Emerging Fourth Sector Eco-system
  • EA8. Topical Education of Citizens

The subtopics provide are listed to simply generate ideas for the types of projects NSF may fund. Any educational project with a strong technical innovative component, has a superior commercial potential, and meets a strong societal need will be seriously considered by NSF’s SBIR/STTR program.

EA1. Pre-K - 12 Education

EA1 topics can include but are not limited to applications and technologies for young students that 1) leverage and commercialize the education research investments made to educational institutions by the National Science Foundation and other government agencies; 2) provide innovative delivery, applications, content, devices, products, services, and curricula for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math); 3) automate the sharing, and repurposing of information, content, curation, pedagogies, and experiences that are long-term and sustainable; and 4) provide advance learning technologies and environments that better motivate and enhance the self-esteem and learning performance of students.

EA2. Global, Distance, and Higher Education

EA 2 topics can include but are not limited to educational applications and technologies related to efforts in 1) augmented reality with the layering of data over 3D spaces; 2) virtual reality using computer generated environments; 3) affective computing especially in innovative online and other learning environments that use human and computer interactions, and 4) learning environments for emerging technologies in the biosciences, computer sciences, robotics, and programming. Highly innovative and technically advanced portable devices and related applications in learning analytics and adaptive learning that are substantially differentiated in the marketplace may be considered.

EA3. Simulations and Gaming Technologies

EA3 topics can include but are not limited to 1) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related innovative educational gaming and simulation applications that enable engaging learning experiences, digital literacy, collaboration, problem solving, communications, critical thinking, and skill improvement; 2) innovative single-player, small-groups, or massively multiplayer online gaming applications that foster cooperation and can include card, board, or digital games as well as those that combining physical and electronic elements; and 3) serious games, immersive games, simulation based games, and games that support experimental learning or transfer knowledge while providing intrinsic motivation for student participation.

EA4. Entrepreneurial, Informal, and Maker Education

EA4 topics can include but are not limited to education based 1) entrepreneurship and training in innovation methodologies and other applications that use technologies that are strongly differentiated from what is available in the marketplace and can be significantly scaled for broad impact; 2) maker empowerment with education and innovative tools for citizens and institutions who create things such as entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, inventors, researchers, educators, and students to dream, design, create, manufacture, and commercialize products and services or to provide life-long learning experiences.

EA5. Information, Computer Science, and Engineering

EA5 topics can include but are not limited to 1) tools that build real-time information from data-mining on complexity, diversity, and similar types of information to generate knowledge that can be used to revise curricula and teaching; 2) innovative and unique cloud based services and applications that support collaboration, teacher and student productivity; 3) education tools that benefit from objects having their own IP address or location based services for new types of communications, assistive technologies, and new applications of benefit primarily to education; 4) wearable information centers, power sources, flexible displays, jewelry, glasses, output devices, and input tools that allow students to interface with computers and other devices in creative new ways that help overcome natural, and physical barriers to learning; and 5) systems and applications that address privacy concerns of educators and students including the safeguarding of personal data in connected education environment.

EA6. Emotional Intelligence (EI) Enhancing Educational Innovations

Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labor productivity to widening skills gaps. These disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years. In this context, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is likely to become critical to all students and anyone who wants to stay relevant in their field or reskill oneself. Innovative education and training proposals are invited that address, enhance one or more aspects of EI, and scale its impact for students of all ages.

EA7. Education & Training for the Emerging Fourth Sector Eco-system

Numerous studies point to an increasing demand among majority of people, in various capacities, to align their economic choices with their values. This need to fundamentally upgrade our outdated and unsustainable economic systems to meet today’s challenges has led to number of pioneering efforts that are disrupting the boundaries that separate the traditional public, private, and social sectors, and giving rise to a new, fourth sector of the economy. This rapidly growing fourth sector combines the institutional logics of the traditional three sectors, and use market-based approaches and private capital to solve the world’s most urgent social and environmental problems. Like nonprofits and governmental agencies, the fourth sector enterprises pursue a wide range of social and environmental objectives as their primary purpose. Like for-profits, they primarily earn their revenues by selling a broad range of products and services that improve quality of life for consumers, create jobs, and contribute to the economy. Proposals are invited that innovatively disseminate fourth sector concepts and know-how through creative and scalable educational and training platforms that would support a robust fourth sector ecosystem.

EA8. Topical Education of Citizens

Our civilization has reached a point where information about many complex and critical topics is generated at a rate faster than human capacity to assimilate it through a reflective approach that is clear, and open-minded. As a result, polarization of views is becoming more common when confronted with significant societal problems, including those involving science and technology, causing dysfunction in the governance of society. New, innovative, non-traditional ways of providing topical public education germane to those issues to the social marketplace are likely needed. Proposals are invited that address the above need and provide education not only about the problems but also potential solutions, including those spurred by interdisciplinary R&D approaches. The resultant product or service must be financially sustainable. A small sampling of such topical issues includes violence, automation, literacy, and sustainability.