Funding Opportunities

Radford University: Realizing Inclusive Science Excellence

Request for Proposals - Making Kickbox Minigrants

Open to all Biology, Chemistry, and Physics faculty.    

Proposals are accepted throughout the year and reviewed on a rolling basis. Awards will be made until the allocated funds for the fiscal year are exhausted. Preference is given to those who have not previously received an award; however, previous recipients are still encouraged to apply.

Introduction: REALISE seeks to support faculty as they create an academic environment 1) that is student-ready, welcoming, and inclusive, 2) that encourages student success through active learning instructional approaches, and 3) in which all students have legitimate opportunities for success.

Active learning is broadly defined as any instructional approach that requires students to do meaningful activities and think about what they are doing. Embedding active learning into the first and second year Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses is a major objective of the REALISE project because students just learn better that way ([1]Freeman et al. 2014).


 “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” - John Holt  

The role of the teacher is to create conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” -Seymour Papert


“Making” as a pedagogy is any process by which we challenge our students to create a digital or physical product to address some tangible, real-world problem.  Making, and project-based learning more generally, are student-centered, hands-on approaches that help students gain ownership and acquire deeper knowledge of their field through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Both encourage students to develop self-efficacy by engaging in the process of defining a problem, creating and testing solutions, and sharing results. It is the reiterative nature of this process, not necessarily reaching an amazing solution to the problem that promotes deep learning and builds student confidence.

Funding opportunity: Making Kickbox minigrants are meant to be a virtual “box” of resources that kickstart faculty-student collaborative making-themed or project-based learning pilot projects. Ideally, funded pilot projects are fun, engaging, incorporate best practices of active learning, and could eventually be scaled-up and embedded into a first or second year course. Minigrants will be up to $500.  Applicants should pay close attention to the potential for scale-up as they developed their proposals; there are, of course, lots of fun and engaging ways to spend $500 for a one-off experience that won’t work at scale… but those aren’t what we seek! 

Expectations: If funded, you agree to participate in the collection of assessment data and to disseminate your making-themed project to the REALISE community. Dissemination might entail describing your work in a “lightning” talk, and/or providing the learning materials in a form such that other faculty could pick them up and use them for their course. We encourage you to submit high resolution images of students engaged with your project to

Proposal and Project Requirements: Please submit a narrative that clearly addresses these criteria:

1. Describe your making-theme or project-based project. What is the problem that students will tackle and how will students work towards a solution? Again, please keep in mind that this pilot project should be scalable to a first or second year course. Clearly material resources and faculty time may place limits on what projects can resonably scale to whole classrooms or multiple sections; projects that do not attend to these limitations are inappropriate.

2. Describe how many and which students will be involved in implementing the pilot project.

     a. One could propose to involve a small number of students, outside of a class, to pilot and debug a classroom experience that will later be implemented in a first-year introductory course. If this is your model, how will you recruit/choose students and structure out-of-class meeting times so as to not exlude students that may have to work, etc? Attend to matters of student opportunity and inclusivity in your project plan.

     b. One could propose to have upper-level students in one course pilot or design/build a classroom experience that will ultimately be implemented in an introductory course.

     c. One could dive right in and work within an introductory course to pilot a classroom experience that could be later used more broadly across sections.

Ideally, in any of these circumstances, the eventual implementation should retain the making-themed or problem-based nature of what the original students tackled. In other words, the problem shouldn’t be “solved” by the piloting cohort, and the eventual “target” students should still be challenged with some problem or making-themed task.

3. Describe the anticipated outcomes that you and your students will achieve by completing the pilot project.

4. Provide a title and a budget for your pilot project.

5. Describe what first or second year course would be an appropriate, eventual target for your project, and how the project would align with those course learning goals. If you do not frequently teach this first or second year course, please collaborate with a colleage who does!

6. Describe how students enrolled in the traget course would benefit from your project (i.e. what are the student learning objectives for the classroom implementation?).

7. These is a limit of three pages, single-spaced, 12 point Arial font. Figures, diagrams, and references are recommended, but are included in the page limit.

Submission: Email your proposal to Tara Phelps-Durr (  Please send your proposal as a pdf and use “your last name_Kickbox proposal” as the file name.

Seeking advice before you submit: We encourage you to communicate with Tara Phelps-Durr ( or Jeremy Wojdak ( regarding your project idea before you submit. We can work with you to clarify these guidelines, and make suggestions that might sharpen your proposal before you invest the time in writing.  

[1] Freeman et al. 2014. Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences 111: 8410–8415. A meta-analysis of 225 studies finding better test scores and less failing students in active-learning classrooms than traditional classrooms, across STEM fields.

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