School of Education


Led by a team of researchers and practitioners affiliated with the Philadelphia Regional Institute for STEM Educators (PRISE, formerly the Philadelphia Regional Noyce Partnership), the USTRIVE project seeks to foster STEM knowledge and literacy with close to 3,000 students in grades 7 – 12 through the use of a social justice STEM framework (SJSP) using a socio-scientific issues (SSI) approach.

Understanding STEM Teaching Through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life

USTRIVE means teaching your students lessons grounded in relevant social and scientific problems facing them in their own community. It means helping them master the skills and concepts necessary to become effective social change agents.

Project Goals and Activities

We will achieve our goal by providing teachers with integrated professional development and learning community supports that are designed to address the following teacher competencies:

  1. Develop, implement, and reflect on units of study that combine socio-scientific issues (SSI) and social justice STEM framework (SJSP)
  2. Cultivate pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching orientation and instructional strategies with regard to SSI/SJSP
  3. Acquire instructional design capabilities to develop and implement lesson plans, assessments, classroom resources, and reflections (i.e., units of study) that emphasize both STEM modeling (i.e., developing, testing and revising models) and the discursive nature of SSI (i.e., self-reflection and scientific skepticism) 
  4. Foster student scientific literacy through a cultural competence and sociopolitical consciousness instructional lens

Teachers who attend professional development (PD) will also receive classroom support visits to implement these new instructional approaches with their students. To help embed and expand the use of SJSP in secondary education classrooms, a new professional learning community (PLC) will foster content-knowledge sharing and leadership development. Facilitating the transfer of this approach to others will be the creation of an open, digital repository for artifacts; we will also develop new and strengthen existing relationships with local environmental education centers to expand the availability of local community resources for teachers.

Our PD activities will support 75 teachers (25 per cohort) over the four-year project period. Each cohort will participate in two years of program activities.  Each year participants will engage in:

  • One year-long course held on Tuesday evenings (2021 - 2022)*
  • Three workshop/field trip intensives on Saturdays
  • Four classroom support visits (Year 1 only)
  • One end-of-year conference with teacher-led workshops (Saturday)

Research Resources

External Evaluators
  • Megan Richardson, Senior Project Manager, Division of Teaching & Learning, Research & Evaluation Group
  • Kelly Feighan, PHD, Research Scientist & Director of Divison of Teaching & Learning, Research & Evaluation Group
  • Public Health Management Corp
    • “Evaluators will gather participant feedback to inform the project team’s implementation and address questions about the quality, usefulness, and relevance of content. In addition to measuring program satisfaction and challenges that teachers may experience along the way, the evaluators will examine the extent to which teachers were able to integrate USTRIVE learning into their work.”
Dr. Macalalag Awarded $2 Million NSF Grant for Collaborative Research on STEM Teaching

Associate Professor Dr. Augusto Macalalag will explore how STEM curriculum impacts 7th- through 12th-grade student understanding. The research is funded through a National Science Foundation grant with a total intended award amount of $2.8 million, of which $2,031,108 is awarded to Arcadia.


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Partner Universities, Colleges, and Schools:

External Advisory Board: Dr. Dana Zeidler (Distinguished University Professor and Program Coordinator of Science Education, University of South Florida, SSI, science literacy), Dr. Alberto Rodriguez (Distinguished Professor in Education, University of Houston, multicultural education), Dr. Randy Yerrick (Dean of Kremen School for Education and Human Development, Fresno State University, historical barriers to science learning), Dr. Paul Alan Morgan (Full Professor, West Chester University, education for sustainability), Dr. Daniel Morales-Doyle (Assistant Professor of Science Education, University of Illinois Chicago, inequity in science education), Dr. Mark Newton (Assistant Professor of Science Education, East Carolina University, SSI), and Dr. Amanda Peel (Postdoctoral Scholar, Northwestern University, real-world issues for meaningful learning)

Participant Dashboard

View all resources, projects, and course content at the links below. If content requires access, request through Google or email James Hinkle.

Contact Us

Interested in joining USTRIVE in the future?

Please email Dorianna Estes at



Please email Dorianna Estes and Dr. Augusto Macalalag with any questions about the USTRIVE program.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2101395. 

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.