Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Science & Mathematics Teaching Center


Dr. Ginger Paige, chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Ana Houseal

Third Advisor

Dr. Kate Muir Welsh

Fourth Advisor

Courtney Carlson


National trends show there has been a decrease in the amount of time science is taught in elementary schools in the last two decades. This study investigates the extent to which elementary schools in Native American communities face similar issues regarding science education. The purpose of this study was to examine the state of science education in four elementary schools in which the majority of students are Native American, with a primary focus on districts in the Intermountain West. Educators and administrators were interviewed to obtain descriptive data to examine the state of science education: identifying what is being taught in terms of science curriculum, and challenges teachers face. The research found that in the four districts interviewed science is being taught less than two hours a week, and often is not incorporated into the school day at all. The primary challenges teachers face are funding and support, which is reflected in a lack of science education supplies and coordinated curriculum. Without sufficient funding to purchase science materials and supplies, teachers struggle to incorporate science into the curriculum. Teachers are creating curriculum independently, and struggle with creating activities that are culturally relevant and age appropriate to Native American students. To address these challenges, this study identified the need to develop a science curriculum for K-5, which incorporates Native knowledge, to develop students’ critical thinking skills.


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Science in Natural Science Education in the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center at the University of Wyoming.