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NASA has announced a competitive funding opportunity for informal education that could result in the award of grants or cooperative agreements to several of the nation's science centers, museums and planetariums. Approximately $6 million is available for new awards.

Proposals for the Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums are expected to use NASA resources to enhance informal education programs related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science or microgravity. Full proposals are due Sept. 10.

NASA is uniquely positioned to contribute to informal education through its remarkable facilities, missions, data, images, and employees, including internationally-known engineers and scientists. Proposals for the program are expected to encourage life-long engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and focus on NASA's contributions to these disciplines. NASA already provides interested science centers, museums and planetariums access to informal education resources -- NASA images, visualizations, video, and information -- free of charge through NASA's Museum Alliance.

NASA will accept proposals from institutions of informal education that are science museums or planetariums in the United States or its territories. NASA centers, federal agencies, federally funded research and development centers, education-related companies, and other institutions and individuals may apply through partnership with a qualifying lead organization.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which leads the Museum Alliance, will conduct an external peer review process for the proposals. Authority for final award selections rests with the Office of Education at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Informal education is recognized as a successful tool for learners of all ages. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences published a study, "Learning Science in Informal Settings: People, Places, Pursuits," which found evidence that informal education programs involving exhibits, new media and hands-on experiences -- such as public participation in research -- increase interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related careers for both children and adults.

Congress initiated the Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums in 2008 to enhance programs related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science or microgravity. On June 3, NASA selected 13 organizations for the first group of projects.

For detailed information about the funding opportunity, click on "Open Solicitations" and look for Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums (CP4SMP) or solicitation number NNH09ZNE005N at:

This funding opportunity supports NASA's education goal to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related to NASA missions and careers. For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:

For more information about the Museum Alliance and to join, visit:

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