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Abstract

This qualitative study examined the perspectives of African American parents as it pertained to informal science education. The following questions guided this study: (1) What are the desires of African American parents/guardians with respect to informal science programs and experiences for their children?; (2) What happens in Jordan Academy, an enrichment program that has successfully recruited African American students?; and (3) What are the African American parents'/guardians' opinions of the program? We inductively and deductively analyzed classroom observations; academy curriculum; photos and videotaped class sessions students' written responses to open-ended items on the program's evaluation; and teachers' and parents' responses to semistructured, audio-recorded interviews. We viewed the analysis results from Boykin's Black cultural ethos (BCE). We further interpreted the study's findings from a critical sociocultural perspective that employed a model synthesized from Cole's cultural-historical framework, Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory, and Boykin's triple quandary. Results indicated that most of the African American parents' desires and opinions align with seven of the nine dimensions of Boykin's BCE. The parents' opinions highlight the potential impact of culture on parental choice to enroll their children into an informal science program. The study has important implications for practices within and research on informal science education. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed93: 293–321, 2009