Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The goal of the Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) is to catalyze research and development that enhances all preK-12 teachers’ and students’ opportunities to engage in high-quality learning experiences related to the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program’s objectives are to: (1) build knowledge about how to develop preK-12 students’ and teachers’ STEM content knowledge, practices, and skills; (2) support collaborative partnerships among STEM education researchers,  STEM education practitioners and school leaders with the goals of extending relevant scientific literatures while developing more effective practice; and (3) build the field of STEM education by supporting knowledge synthesis, interdisciplinary interactions across fields and stakeholders, and the development of novel and robust ways of assessing teacher and student learning, engagement, and skills. Outcomes of DRK-12 projects can include but are not limited to promising, evidence-based products that can be used by others to support the success of all teachers and all students (e.g., curriculum, teaching and research tools, and models of collaboration).

The program solicits proposals along two strands: (1) Learning and (2) Teaching. While these strands certainly overlap and have synergy, proposals should identify one strand that is most consistent with the proposal’s objectives and research questions (e.g., are the project’s methods and outcomes focused primarily on teacher development and teaching or student development and learning?). Research project types under both Strands include exploratory, design and development, impact, implementation, measurement and assessment, and synthesis studies. The program also supports other project types including Partnership Development Grants and Workshops/Conferences.

Successful proposals demonstrate how they build on fundamental research in STEM education and on previous or current applied research and development efforts. They also explain their theoretical and empirical justification (e.g., Why is the project designed as it is?) and outline related specific aims and methods with potential to yield new understandings of STEM teaching and learning contexts, processes, and outcomes. The program welcomes proposals focused on teaching and learning in any STEM field(s) and on priorities identified in the National Science Foundation’s strategic plan. Efforts focused on facilitating the reciprocal exchange or mobilization of knowledge between the research and preK-12 formal education professional communities are strongly encouraged (see this Dear Colleague Letter

Full Proposal Deadline Date:  Nov. 8, 2023

Agency Website

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 50 to 60

It is anticipated that in FY 2024 the distribution of awards by funding levels will be as follows: Partnership Development, about 10 awards; Level I research, about 10-12 awards; Level II research, about 20-25 awards; Level III research, about 5-7 awards, and Workshop/Conference and Synthesis, about 3-5 awards, pending availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $50,000,000

Pending availability of funds, NSF anticipates approximately $50,000,000 will be available for the FY2024 competition.

The level of funding requested for research projects should align with the aims and scope of the proposed work, and the capacity of the interdisciplinary team to conduct the proposed project type. Proposals should provide clear justifications for the requested level of funding. Funding level ranges for research projects are as follows:

  • Level I = requests up to $450,000 with a duration of up to three years;
  • Level II = up to $3,000,000 with a duration of up to four years; and
  • Level III = up to $5,000,000 with a duration of up to five years.

Funding levels for other project types are as follows:

  • Partnership Development proposals are up to $100,000 for one year;
  • Synthesis proposals are up to $600,000 and three-years duration;
  • Workshop /Conference proposals are up to $200,000 and one-year duration.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

November 8, 2023