The purpose of this article is to report our findings from a qualitative study intended to develop our understandings of how inner-city mothers perceive science. Using qualitative methodologies, our analysis reveals that the mothers' perceptions can be grouped into four categories: perceptions of science as (a) schoolwork/knowledge, (b) fun projects, (c) a tool for maintaining the home and family, and (d) an untouchable domain. After we present these categories we compare our findings across categories to argue that those mothers who had spent time doing science with their children were more likely to have a more personal, dynamic, and inquiry-based view of science. We also argue that mothers' perceptions of science were more dynamic when they spoke about situations and contexts that were familiar to them, such as food, nutrition, and child care. We conclude the article with a discussion of the implications our findings have for science education reform. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 688–711, 2001