Friday, September 14, 2007

Science + Education = ?

A proposal deadline is looming, and I'm submitting two proposals. One is for equipment, and that proposal is straightforward to write, albeit a bit dull. The other one involves a project that merges science research with science education in a way that goes beyond tacking on some 'broader impacts' to a proposal that is 99.9999% science research.

The challenge is to write it so that it doesn't sound like either part is weakened by the other. The co-PI is a science education professor, and we have a record of collaborations that have resulted in science education publications, including teaching modules that are used in science classes. In theory, there should be no doubt that we can do the integrated research that we propose.

I think the proposal looks pretty good, but I am somewhat skeptical that it will fly, in part because it is hard enough to get any proposal funded. Furthermore, a previous proposal with some engineering colleagues was shot down by education experts because we came across as obnoxious. We got review comments like "Who do they think they are.." (writing about educational activities when they are just professors who don't know anything about education) and "Just because they build it, doesn't mean anyone will come." (how special: a sports analogy and an insult all in one).

I have those negative comments circling my head in cartoon thought balloons as I write this new proposal, but I think both aspects of the proposed work are very interesting, important, and feasible, so I see no reason not to try to get at least a pilot study going.


Ms.PhD said...

I think there is some amount of useful delusion required for writing proposals of all kinds.

Try to fight the negative bubbles if you can.

This issue of credibility in funding applications has always annoyed me... you should be able to propose to work on ideas regardless of whether you're an Educator or someone who does research most of the day.

Or maybe you just need another few educators to look over this proposal (and the last one) and tell you if you're somehow bungling it with unintended offensive word choices?

Angry Professor said...

The education panels are very difficult. They are loaded with idiots (really) who take offense at anything they don't understand. It probably wasn't that you had written anything insulting, but they saw something "hard" and dismissed it.

I haven't sat on any education panels but I have a few colleagues who have. They report that the proposals that get funded are shameful: really awful science but lots of in-class activities.

Good luck with this one.

PonderingFool said...

Just because they build it, doesn't mean anyone will come.

Isn't that more a pop cultural reference to a movie more than a sports analogy? The movie in question being Field of Dreams about fathers and sons where baseball does play an important role but the line has nothing to do with a sports analogy.

That being said it is still an inane comment by the reviewer.