The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2024 | JUNE 9 – JULY 27


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Final Weeks

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

We continued an exploration of the causes of civil conflict by reinforcing economic sources, evaluating group and individual reasons, and addressed how the flow of weapons can also create instability. We watched “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” for the rest of the short week. This movie provides a biting evaluation of the Cold War and brinkmanship with nuclear weapons. While dated, the issue of accidental war in an age of nuclear weapons coincided with topics we discussed earlier in the summer.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During week 4, we began topics related to social psychology. Students had chosen topics upon which they were to prepare information to share with the class. We also saw Crash Course videos on social psychology topics. Students had papers due on Thursday.

Our final week consisted of discussions and evaluations of several of the most controversial studies in psychology, including Milgram’s study on obedience and Zimbardo’s prison study, which was conducted at Stanford University. These studies raised ethical questions due to the disturbing results. In addition, we will have an exam on Thursday, which will have a similar format to the exams we have had throughout the session, plus some written questions that will require evaluation of topics in social psychology.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

The students are working very hard on preparing their music for the end of the summer concert. Students have also been taking rhythmic and melodic dictation. All of their repertoire is listed on our GPGC CHOIR BLOG with listening links. We have discussed our END OF THE SUMMER BRIDGE PROJECT that is due next Wednesday. We have also discussed dress for the end of the year concert. The students seem excited about their songs and I greatly enjoy working with them.


Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students were introduced to the Arduino platform and Integrated Developer Environment and constructed their first of several electronic circuits.


Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week students participated in a quiz bowl. Questions come from a high school Quiz Bowl tournament. We also played games. Games included Blokus, Chess, Hippos and Crocs, Lords of Waterdeep, Score Four, Set, Stratego, Tsuro, and Twixt.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 4 was briefer than anticipated due to hurricane Barry; we missed Friday’s class. When students left for 4th of July, none of the students conducting science projects had collected data. This situation prompted me to impress upon these students how little time they had left to complete their projects. They got to work, and all students began (and two completed) their data collection this week. Data collection for the class study was complete before the holiday.

This week is the one during which we prepare for presentation of projects on Friday. Ideally, all students would be finished collecting data and would have a good rough draft of their final paper. However, some students working on their own projects had not completed data collection, which created a time problem. I drilled students doing science studies repeatedly to help them become very clear about the design of their study and what their variables are. We also discussed their hypotheses and how analyzing their data would allow them to confirm or fail to confirm those hypotheses. Students worked on creating a PowerPoint for their presentations and a final paper. I went to study hall on Wednesday evening to provide assistance to students working on science, both individual projects and the group working on presenting the class study. All students had a completed PowerPoint and were able to present their studies on Friday. Three of four students who chose science projects had not submitted a satisfactory paper so must spend Week 7 on this task if they are to graduate.



Weekly Reports – Composition, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshman Composition (Mrs. Cecile Tate, Instructor)

Composition I continued working on adding concrete details and commentary to their literary response using one of the short stories they read in class. The plan was for the students to write  a topic sentence then structure the paragraph using one concrete detail from the story and two sentences explaining the concrete detail. This pattern was repeated and the paragraph ended with a concluding sentence. I wanted the students to be aware that literary responses are more meaningful if they have structure.

Senior Composition and Grad Composition (Ms. Sarah Harshbarger, Instructor)

With the seniors, we discussed poems from various periods of American literature. We talked about narrative poetry and lyric poetry and what differentiates each from flash fiction. The students began brainstorming for their poems to turn in on 7/3.

The Grads discussed poems from different periods of American literature and how each period influenced the poetry that came after it. We discussed different kinds of poetic technique and how to make writing choices based on the subject matter and tone of the poem. The students began brainstorming for their poems which are due on 7/3.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week four, we spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few.

I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside. For when he returned, according to Plato, and tried revealing Truth to the others, he’d be killed. They really enjoyed the play acting and no students (or teachers) were harmed in the making of the cave.

At the end of the week, we continued with Plato’s concepts of Utopia and what Utopia actually means. The students brought up ideas such as socialism, capitalism, and communism. Again I let them debate with on the idea of the Philosopher-King and the caste system.

In week five, we began with the introduction of Aristotle. We discussed his history and his concepts of the Unmovable Mover. We also discussed Aristotle’s influence during the Middle Ages due to the Muslim world and his reintroduction to European thought through St. Thomas Aquinas. After Aristotle, we then moved to how the Romans adopted much of Greek culture.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Three

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we finished our analysis of interstate conflict. We continued the evaluation of deterrence, which included students reading excerpts from chapters 5 and 6 from Arms and Influence. These chapters included problems facing long terms disarmament and the potential issues facing states who desire to deescalate a standoff between major powers. We evaluated intervention into conflicts regarding why states intervene, how the intervene, and the likelihood of success regarding mediation. We ended our discussion of interstate conflict by spending time addressing the current conflict with Iran and the continued conflict with North Korea. On Thursday we began our evaluation of intrastate conflict (civil conflict or civil war). We covered state failure and intrastate conflict onset and economic explanations for intrastate conflict onset. Students were assigned a reading from Leashing the Dogs of War entitled “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy.” On Friday students continued the state development project. Several students sent out spies, some students developed weapons programs, and other students worried about rebellions within their borders.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This week was devoted mostly to the topic of memory formation and especially to problems in memory.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

This week we have been focusing on memorizing and perfecting the first half of our concert. We have also worked to solidify the vocal parts on our 2 traditional songs of STOPPING BY WOODS and THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. In past years, these have fallen by the wayside but I am determined that these be learned this summer. (As one students pointed out…this may be Mrs. Tanner’s “Impossible Dream.”) In theory & ear training, we have begun taking RHYTHMIC DICTATION using both simple rhythms (quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes, whole notes and their respective rhythms) and advanced rhythms (dotted notes, triplets, syncopation). They are singing scales in a 6 part canon and are able to sing the 5 pentatonic scales in a serpentine setting. We have begun working in mixed formation to promote independent singing. The students are able to self-evaluate their performances in a very productive way.


Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students continued to find and print 3D objects this week. They also saw several video clips on how to choose a printer over a large price range and what reviewers recommend. They viewed clips on what types of printing filaments are available and were shown how to level the printer build plates and load filament.


Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week was survivor week in Critical Thinking. The students were put into different types of survival scenarios to test their ability to thrive under disaster wilderness conditions in Northern Canada and the Sahara Desert. The students ranked items based on usefulness. The activities came from military experts. Additionally, the students had to work to either escape or live on an island after they had been shipwrecked. The students could either attempt to fight each other (which is normally their initial impulse) and lose resources or they could band together to share resources. Unlike years past, no group escaped the island. Instead, they focused on raiding rival camps for resources. The students appeared pleased by the events and items available with the auction based off of the television show “Survivor.” On Friday we played games. Games available: Blokus, Chess, Forbidden Island, Hippos and Crocs, Lords of Waterdeep, Score 4, Twixt, and Zombie Dice.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:


Freshman Science & Sophomore Science (Ms. Keesha Jennings, Instructor)

Freshmen: This week we continued our research to create the perfect catapults. The students learned about kinetic and potential energy to help design a catapult that could succeed in three areas; distance, power, and accuracy. After catapult testing was complete, we focused on Newton’s Laws of Motion. This new focus lead to the creation of balloon powered cars! Designs included ideas about friction, action and reaction, and aerodynamics.

Sophomore: In Science II the students learned about chemical reactions. They discovered how a catalyst can speed up the rate of a reaction, the way energy is released or absorbed in terms of endothermic and exothermic reactions, and the way a closed system can help explain the Law of Conservation of Matter.


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During the third week, students planning their own studies had conferences with me to work toward a good design and a feasible plan for data collection. I also encouraged them to find additional background information so that they have some information about similar research related to their topic. (Last week we discussed background sources and how to find them. In addition, I provided students with one background source to get them started; they must find at least two others.) That is, these students pursued the details of turning a good idea into a process of data collection. Students not conducting science studies for their Senior Projects began data collection on the class study, which involved testing in the rat lab. We spend Monday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats in s study that varies the amount of prior exposure the rats had to sucrose reinforcement pellet (4 days vs. 0 days of exposure). The study’s hypothesis is that prior exposure to this flavor will make the rats more willing to work for the same flavored pellets in comparison to pellets of a different flavor. The training boxes measure how many bar presses the rats make, enabling us to make the comparison. Each day, half of the rats work in a Skinner box with banana-flavored reinforcers, while the other half worked in a box that dispenses plain sugar-flavored pellets. Our study seeks to determine if the prior exposure affects the rats’ bar-press responses.


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week’s focus was on What is Rhetorical and the Art of Persuasive. Students began the week learning about ethos, logos, and pathos. They were assigned a topic then wrote an argumentative essay based on their stance on the issue. Then we spent some time learning about rhetorical analysis, by analyzing nytimes student written editorials and then wrote a rhetorical analysis of Steve Job’s Commencement Speech from 2005.


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