This article reports on a 2½-year collaborate project to reform the teaching and learning of science in the context of Mae Jemison Elementary, the lowest performing elementary school in the state of Louisiana. I outline a taxonomy of authentic science inquiry experiences and then use the resulting framework to focus on how project participants interpreted and enacted ideas about collaboration and authenticity. The resulting contextually authentic science inquiry model links the strengths of a canonically authentic model of science inquiry (grounded in the Western scientific canon) with the strengths of a youth-centered model of authenticity (grounded in student-generated inquiry), thus bringing together relevant content standards and topics with critical social relevance. I address the question of how such enactments may or may not promote doing science together and consider the implications of this model for urban science education. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 695–721, 2006