A cluster of three public schools was studied in an effort to assess students' attitudes toward and participation in science, and how they might vary by gender and grade. Two to three classes at each grade level from K–12 were surveyed to assess and compare attitudes toward science, extent of prior science-related experiences, and perceptions of science and scientists; each class also was observed to determine the relative numbers of teacher–student dyadic interactions related to each gender, as well as the proportions of girls and boys actively versus passively participating in laboratory activities. Overall, girls and boys expressed similar opinions on all survey scales, but girls were less likely to view science as a male-stereotyped field; younger students expressed more positive attitudes toward science than did older students. Girls also participated actively in science class: they initiated as many teacher interactions as did boys, but did not receive as much teacher attention; from elementary school to the early secondary years they also were as likely as boys to manipulate science equipment as to record data. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.