First Advisor

Amy Larson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors


Arts & Letters


Science -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Inquiry-based learning, Portland Public Schools (Or.)




As a result of the imbalance of success among racially and ethnically diverse students within STEM education, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is being recontextualized. Scholars and educators alike are finding the benefit in supporting inquiry based methods within the scientific curriculum because they increase a student’s science conceptualization. Three public elementary schools who lead in science education in Portland are analyzed and compared to two public elementary schools who do not have a specific focus on STEM. The comparison is created to determine the impact of the STEM programs being implemented are particularly beneficial to the diverse student population and the students’ success. For this study I review the actions teachers take to embrace science education, processes in which science is promoted, and what is engaging students is explored through literature and synthesized with what Portland Public schools is doing in Portland, Oregon. It is evident that Portland Public schools serves many racially and ethnically diverse students. The findings represent the disparities between students test scores in STEM schools and those that are not. The variable between the schools is the implementation of STEM programs and sheds light on results of applying these programs. However, this synthesis could lead to a further investigation through interviews and observation of how these schools, and many more in Portland, are contributing to creating a stronger STEM education for all students.


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