The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2024 | JUNE 9 – JULY 27

GPGC Blog



Weekly Reports – 2023 Week One – Afternoon Classes and Dorm

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Afternoon Classes:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

GPGC Choir Students have been working on learning vocal exercises, music literacy (rhythmic and melodic), and reading concert repertoire. Polling the students, they have chosen the theme of NATURE for our FINAL PERFORMANCE.

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week the students took an animal personality test so they could have fun and learn more about themselves.  We played several different games throughout this week including Carcassonne, Score 4, Twixt, Blokus, Hippos and Crocs, Zombie Dice, Rubix Race, Tsuro, Loot,  What Were You Thinking, and Trial by Trolley.

Dorm Life:

This week the students were welcomed back to the program and spent time getting acclimated to dorm life. They spent their afternoons playing Magic the Gathering and ping pong while also getting to know each other.

On Friday, students got their first weekly bank where they saw their grades for the week. Students spent time after bank going to play soccer or staying at the dorm participating in Stories with Holes where they try to figure out the missing piece in the story presented to them. We also had our first movie night where students came down with blankets and pillows to the lobby and watched Shrek on our big projector screen.

On Saturday morning, students got donuts and fruits for breakfast and were presented a workshop on how to correctly use the dorm laundry machines. They also got to decorate their own laundry magnets. Later in the day, students played Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch and had a chance to go to the Rec to play basketball and other sports. For dinner, students were given Raising Cane’s. That evening we had our first dance where our sophomore students spent time teaching the freshmen our traditional dances.

Sunday began with donuts, church, and a Danny Phantom marathon in the lobby. In the afternoon, students had a chance to get Starbucks and to sing karaoke with their classmates. For dinner, we had Taco Bell, and we finished our weekend with Sundae Sunday. Students were able to pick their ice cream flavors and toppings of their choice to have as a fun end of the weekend treat!


Weekly Reports – 2023 Week One – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshmen (First Year) Classes:

Freshmen Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

In the first week of science I, we focused on fundamentals: the scientific method, the mathematical underpinnings of scientific claims, and the basics of physics, from matter and energy to Newton’s laws. The students kicked off their summer-long Plant Experiment, in which each student is entrusted with a plant (this year, flat leaf parsley) and is allowed to change any one “variable” of its care, from what it’s watered with to where it’s located, to explore the concepts of variables, controls, and the importance of accurate and precise data collection. The students saw some exciting demos like flame tests, used laboratory-grade chemistry equipment such as graduated cylinders and electronic balances, and learned the basics of laboratory safety. 

Freshman Composition (Abigail Skinner, Instructor)

We focused on annotating/reading like a writer, although we used the story “The Beginning” by Radha Zutshi Opubor to practice. The students read their copy for five minutes and annotated and then swapped papers to keep reading and annotating. I encouraged the students to read each other’s annotations and respond to them. We had a really good class discussion about the story and craft elements such as description, personification, and conflict. The students then selected their favorite craft element from the story and had free writing time to practice with the prompt “I remember”. We also discussed motivation and goals for writing and the students wrote a “Why I Write” statement. They also wrote questions for their favorite writer. 

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

In Humanities I, we started the week getting familiar with the many empires that have risen in the Mediterranean area that gave way to the Greek empire. We discussed differences between Sparta and Athens, resulting in a brief exploration of the Peloponnesian wars. Seeing that so much of their history is rooted in mythology, students were exposed to foundational myths about the various city-states of Greece. We also took a crash course in Greek myth and looked at The Iliad and The Odyssey. We ended the week looking at Alexander the Great which will lead into Socrates, philosophy, democracy, and eventually into Plato and his Republic next week.

Sophomore (Second Year) Classes:

Sophomore Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

Sophomore science has so far been focused on the study of biology. After an engaging discussion about the origins of life, symbiosis, and the genetic relationships among living organisms, we spent much of the week learning about the chemical basis for life: the importance of water and the functions and structures of the basic biomolecules (DNA/RNA, protein, lipids, and carbohydrates). We used homemade lava lamps, bubble “membranes” and strings of colored beads to bring to life the concepts of the hydrophobic effect, cell membrane structure and the genetic code.

Sophomore Composition (Abigail Skinner, Instructor)

We focused on annotating/reading like a writer this week to prep for the rest of the reading they’ll do this summer. We read and annotated various interviews and articles by various writers that discussed their experiences and motivations as writers. These included Terry Pratchett, Joan Didion, John Greene, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes. We discussed motivations for writing and our own personal goals for our writing. The students ended the week by writing a “Why I Write” statement that included their goals. I’ve passed these on to Meilyn. The students also wrote questions to their favorite living authors. I made it optional if they actually want to send the questions, but for the couple students who wanted to, I’ll send off their questions and forward any responses on to Meilyn. 

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as an introduction to utopias and dystopias.  Concepts included power and social structures (top-down versus bottom-up organization), censorship, happiness, developing meaningful relationships, communication, access to information, personal expression, the role of technology in our lives, and government oppression.  We read through part 1 of Fahrenheit 451 (50th-anniversary edition).

Monday – we went over the syllabus.  Students learned about how Thomas More’s book transformed the word utopia.  Utopia used to mean “no place” and eutopia meant an idyllic or perfect place.  More switched out Utopia for eutopia.  We discussed how this meant that creating a utopia would be difficult.  We defined dystopia and we discussed whether the current society is a dystopia or utopia.  The students agreed it was a dystopia and shared their reasons for that answer.  To highlight critical thinking, I provided students with information from Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now regarding how much society has progressed since the Enlightenment. 

Tuesday – We discussed pages 3-24 of Fahrenheit 451.  We discussed censorship, happiness, the effect book banning had on that society, the role technology plays in that society, reasons why that society is a dystopia, meaningfulness in communication, government regulation of people’s activities, pressure to conform to society, and ways in which our society is like and different from the society in the book.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 24-46 of Fahrenheit 451.  I played the song “Fake Happy” by Paramore and asked them to apply it to a character in the novel.  Discussion topics included how it’s important for people to recognize (or “see”) us, why it’s important for society to value the lives of children, how technology can isolate us from others, the importance of meaningful communication in order to build relationships with others, authoritative government structures, literary motifs like foreshadowing, and post-trauma responses (some students did not understand that Guy was having a post-traumatic nervous breakdown and had questions regarding that portion of the reading).

Thursday – We discussed pages 47-68 of Fahrenheit 451.  I played the song “Shiny, Happy People” by R.E.M. and had the students relate it back to the novel.  Then, I explained how the song was written as a critique of the Chinese government’s propaganda after Tiananmen Square.   I briefly described the Tiananmen Square democratic protests of 1989 and the Chinese government’s response to those protests.  I also showed the students pictures of the protest and pictures of Chinese propaganda after the protests.  The class discussion focused on how societies that limit thinking and promote immediate satisfaction can impart short attention spans (several students related TikTok and other social media platforms to the society in the novel); how constant stimulation can make it difficult to think and communicate with others; that oppressive societies will force uniformity and equality, will attack intelligent people, and will attack people that are seen as different or that refuse to conform; that authoritative government systems will suppress freedom of expression, freedom of speech, access to information, and access to communication; parasocial relationships and how societies will sometimes use technology as a means to supplant person-to-person interactions; and how do we determine happiness.

Friday –Students worked on their Utopia Project.

 



Weekly Reports – 2022 Week Five – Afternoon Classes and Dorm

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Afternoon Classes:

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

We initially planned to have a “Redemption” week where the students could retry activities they struggled with in previous weeks. However, due to several students being checked out, it made it difficult for the teams to compete against each other. Instead, each team got to have a day where they learned Reef, a new game to the course, with the instructor and the other students played games that will be in next week’s game tournament.

PE (Coach Ancil Delaney)

We played basketball, racquetball, and swam.

Dorm Life:

This week the kids were welcomed back to GPGC on the 4th of July with a hot dog cookout followed by popsicles. They had a government meeting to vote on the final design for their end of the summer t-shirt. They also were able to have the second part of their film workshop where they learned how to edit video.

This weekend the kids celebrated Bilbo Baggins’s birthday with cookie cake and a reading of The Hobbit by the students; this is a tradition that has been carried on at GPGC for decades. On Saturday the kids went thrift shopping in the morning to find any last minute pieces to complete their outfits for the Costume Dance later that night. After Lunch they visited the baby alligator park in Jennings followed by snoballs. After some lobby craft time for final costume makings and pizza for dinner, the Costume dance began. Sunday morning started with donuts, cereal, and fruit. In the dorm lobby we had our summer Magic: The Gathering tournament. After lunch the kids chose between going out to play putt putt or staying in and competing in friendly trivia games. Later in the afternoon they had the chance to go to Books’a’Million. Dinner was burgers followed by our weekly Sundae Sunday treat.


Weekly Reports – 2022 Week Five- Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshmen (First Year) Classes:

Freshmen Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

Second to last week! This week we focused on physics and math, learning about Newton’s laws of motion and probability.

Tuesday: We discussed the four fundamental forces, Newton’s laws of motion, velocity, acceleration and free fall. We explored these concepts through demos involving dropping various objects.

Wednesday: We talked about probability — I showed them the Monty Hall Problem, discussed the law of large numbers and expected vs. experimental values using dice and Rock Paper Scissors, and then worked more probability problems using a deck of cards and various games such as High-Low and Blackjack.

Thursday: We continued our discussion of basic physics and Newton’s laws, diving more deeply into the concepts of inertia, force, mass vs. weight, and velocity vs. speed. Then we built balloon-powered cars out of water bottles, balloons, skewers, and bottle caps to demonstrate Newton’s 3rd law.

Friday: We watched nature documentaries about bugs, mammals, and the arctic and ate snacks!

Freshman Composition (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

This week, students were introduced to found poems, epistolary poems, and prose poems. They typed and finished their poems for class and workshopped those poems together. They shared their work aloud and gave constructive feedback to each other. In addition to finishing poetry, students also discussed positive workshop practices and started working on their final writing project.


Tuesday- Students were introduced to found poetry and epistolary poetry. They read “Dear Universe” by Wendy Videlock, “Dear” by Jill Osier, and a hybrid poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil.

Wednesday- Students worked in the library. They were asked to turn in their typed poems by the end of class.

Thursday- Students read “Poetry Workshop 101” before workshopping their poems. They read their work aloud and gave constructive feedback to each other.

Friday- I discussed the final writing portfolio with the class and they participated in an in-class writing activity.

Freshmen Humanities  (Christine Bertrand, Instructor)

This week we read and discussed Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” one of the most widely-read passages from The Republic. It addresses the struggle of humans to face new understanding and knowledge and our natural resistance to accepting that we may have been wrong. Next week students will close the summer humanities class with a researched written paper applying the concept of the allegory to an event or topic of their interest, explaining how some new understanding or discovery faced resistance by the majority of people and how some revolutionary thinkers pushed past that resistance to new understanding of their world.

Graduate Classes:

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Our topic for the weeks was memory, which included a review of concepts related to learning (because there can’t be memory without learning) and then information about sensory memory, short-term memory, and long term memory. We covered the topic of amnesia later in the week.

Monday was a holiday, so Tuesday was our first class day of this week. We reviewed the concepts of Pavlovian conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning.
We began the topic of memory on Tuesday, but the discussion continued on Wednesday. On those days, we examined three different types of memory—sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory is based on physical sensory input, such as light falling on the retina, which creates an image on the retina. However that image fades very rapidly—in less than a second. When people attend to that information, it may get the person’s attention, and transfer to short-term memory (STM). That memory system can hold information for up to 30 seconds, which allows processing that can move the information to long-term memory.


On Wednesday, we discussed some of the flaws of memory, focusing on a series of experiments that confirmed how incorrect long-term memory can be. That research has become very influential because it showed that people are prone to mistakes in memory, which affects legal testimony. That is, eyewitnesses are not always accurate in giving evidence or identifying perpetrators. I arranged an activity that confirmed that gifted children are as prone to these memory distortions as are others.


On Thursday we began to discuss amnesia and identified two types—retrograde and anteriograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia affects individuals by making parts of long-term memory inaccessible. However, most recover those memories, which indicates that the information does no disappear from memory. The media are a main source of misinformation about amnesia, and we covered some of those inaccuracies.
We also had our weekly quiz on Thursday, and the grades were good.

On Friday we discussed anterograde amnesia, which occurs due to damage to the hypocampus, which is a brain structure. That disorder results in individuals who are unable to form new memories, but their existing memories are not affected. That description may not sound all that serious, but it is devastating—people with this type of memory have a very short time to notice and process information, and that information will never become long-term memory.

Conflict and Diplomacy (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

On Tuesday we discussed how colonialization and decolonialization affects civil conflict outbreak and relapse. We watched War Don Don, a documentary on the International Criminal Court’s trial of Issa Sessay regarding his actions as a leader for the RUF in the Sierra Leone civil war, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday we continued the state development project with several students deciding to engage in international conflict.

Graduate Creative Writing (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

This week, students began discussing hybrid forms. They were introduced to the lyric essay, zuihitsu, prose poem, and found poem. As a class, we discussed their final project. Students began working on their choice pieces and final reflections. They were given time to type in the library.

Tuesday- Students were introduced to the lyric essay and the zuihitsu. As a class, we discussed the final choice piece and the final reflection.

Wednesday- Students were introduced to found poetry and prose poetry. They spent the remainder of class brainstorming for their choice pieces.

Thursday- Students worked on their choice pieces in the library.

Friday- Students worked on their choice pieces in the library


Weekly Reports – 2022 Week Four- Afternoon Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Afternoon Classes:

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week was Lego week in Critical Thinking. The first activity has student’s building bridges out of LEGO’s. The bridges has to meet height, length, and width specifications and was supposed to hold at least 2.5 lbs. of weight. In 5th period, that class’s second activity tested the students’ ability to understand ratios as each team was given the task of building a tall structure with the best ratio of height in centimeters over time in seconds. In 6th period, the student’s activity involved memory, teamwork, allocation of roles, and communication. The teams were to replicate a model, but only one team member could see the model and that member could not build with the Legos. The third Lego activity allowed the students to be creative. Each team was to build anything they desired around a theme and at the end of the hour the team would give a presentation on their structures and their theme. On Thursday, students played a variety of games.

PE (Coach Ancil Delaney)

The students swam, played volleyball, and swam.

 



Weekly Reports – 2022 Week Four – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshmen (First Year) Classes:

Freshmen Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

Last week was short, but packed! We kicked it off making batteries out of fruits and veggies, held a moving funeral for those departed servants of science, the plants from our plant experiment that died in the first few weeks, and exploded gummy bears.

Freshman Composition (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

Students began discussing poetry this week! Students were introduced to various forms, such as the persona poem, ode, abecedarian, epistolary poem, and haiku. We discussed lyric vs narrative poetry and students participated in literary analysis, as well as in-class writing activities!

Monday: Introduction to Poetry! Discuss lyric vs narrative poetry. Students read and discussed “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.

Tuesday: Students read and discussed “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath and “Love Song of the Demogorgon” by Jenny Molberg. Students wrote persona poems in class.

Tuesday: Students read and discussed “Oranges” by Lauren S Cook, “Ode to the Flute” by Ross Gay, and “Ode to French Fries” by Pablo Neruda. Students wrote odes in class.

Wednesday: Students read and discussed “Hummingbird Abecedarian” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Students wrote abecedarians in class.

Thursday: Free Write Friday!!!

Freshmen Humanities  (Christine Bertrand, Instructor)

This week we took our first peek at Plato’s tome The Republic. Students read some of the first part of Book II, which considers the question of justice, right vs wrong, and the motivators that drive human behavior. This section includes the story of the ring of Gyges, leading to discussion of the impact of power on choices.

Graduate Classes:

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

The topic for Week four was sleep and dreams.

We began the week with a history of the study of sleep, beginning with the discovery of the sleep cycle, which occurred in the early 1950s. Before that discovery, the assumption was that asleep and awake were the variations, but the discovery revealed five different stages of sleep.


On Tuesday, we talked about the stages, focusing on Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which was of great interest because it is associated with dreaming. We discussed the physiological process of dreaming and how EEGs allow the study of the stages. I pointed out that the content of dreams is not currently possible to study completely objectively—we have no technology that measures dreaming; that technology measures brain activity.


On Wednesday we explored the controversies over the meaning of dreams, with Freud’s view that dreams are messages from the unconscious and a more modern view that explains dreams as the sleep brain’s attempt to make sense of the activation that accompanies REM. We also covered the effects of sleep deprivation and the case of Randy Gardner, who set the world record for sleep deprivation—264 hours.


On Thursday we had our weekly quiz (good grades this week) and talked about sleep problems, which include phenomena such as “jet lag” and disorders such as insomnia, sleepwalking, narcolepsy, and apnea. I said that many sleep disorders are due to problems in coordinating the changes in brain function that occur in the sleep cycles. However, some are dangerous (such as apnea).


No class on Friday; everyone went home for 4th of July break.

Conflict and Diplomacy (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

We ended our discussion of interstate conflict this week. Our last discussion dealt with mediation. We began investigating intrastate conflict (civil war). This included learning about the causes of civil conflict with a special focus on failed states and the likelihood of civil conflict and civil conflict relapse, the resource curse, the challenge of group action, and how economics plays a role both in state success and civil conflict outbreak. Students read from chapters 6 and 12 of Leashing the Dogs of War. The state development activity continued on Friday with 3 of the 4 countries actively engaging in treaties.

Graduate Creative Writing (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

Students continued discussing poetry this week. They were introduced to a variety of forms and pieces. The class read work from Frank O’Hara, Tom Hunley, Wendy Videlock, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Jane Wong. Students began writing their two poems and preparing for an in-class poetry workshop. Students shared their poems aloud in class during workshop and received constructive feedback from each other.

Monday: Students listened to a recording of Frank O’Hara reading “Having a Coke With You.” The class discussed the poem, as well as O’Hara’s use of rhythm and structure. Students participated in an in-class writing activity.

Tuesday: Students were introduced to the elegy and the epistolary poem. Students read “Dear Universe” by Wendy Videlock. Students participated in an in-class writing prompt.

Wednesday: Students worked in the library on their poems for workshop.

Thursday: Students read their poems aloud as a group and gave constructive feedback during in-class workshop.


GPGC gave me a sense of community,


a place where being smart was acceptable, where bullying was not the norm, and where creativity was welcomed.


– Cashman P., Alumnus