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Abstract

The teaching of science through activities that emphasize design and technology has been advocated as a vehicle for accomplishing science for all students. This study was situated in an inner7-city neighborhood school populated mainly by African American students from life worlds characterized by poverty. The article explores the discourse and practices of students and three coteachers as a curriculum was enacted to provide opportunities for students to learn about the physics of motion through designing, building, and testing a model car. Some students participated in ways that led to their building viable model cars and interacting with one another in ways that suggest design and technological competence. However, there also was evidence of resistance from students who participated sporadically and refused to cooperate with teachers as they endeavored to structure the environment in ways that would lead to a deeper understanding of science. Analysis of in-class interactions reveals an untapped potential for the emergence of a sciencelike discourse and diverse outcomes. Among the challenges explored in this article is a struggle for respect that permeates the students' lives on the street and bleeds into the classroom environment. Whereas teachers enacted the curriculum as if learning was the chief goal for students, it is apparent that students used the class opportunistically to maintain and earn the respect of peers. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 746–767, 2001