The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2023 | JUNE 4 – JULY 22


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.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Three

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, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what actually history is when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

The Sophists were introduced to set up Greek Philosophy for next week. The students made good analogies deciding that the Sophists, particularly Protagoris, were born far ahead of their time and would do very well in our modern society. We also talked about how most of what we know of them is from Plato, therefore one should always consider the source when looking at historical figures.  We introduced Socrates and I’m really sad that I have to teach him his ending next week. The kids really seem to love him so far.


Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We finished reading Utopia by Sir Thomas More. Students discussed big ideas from the book such as wealth, virtue, equality, justice, and symbolism. Students were assigned homework finding two symbols on the book and describing what those symbols represent. Next we began a project based on Utopia. Then we discussed the concept of the Social Contract. Students also began reading Lord of the Flies as a class and discussed foreshadowing. To close out the week, we took a quiz.


Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we wrapped the novel 1984. Students had their usual class discussion and also thought about how our world today is similar to the world in 1984.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Two

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

We addressed bargaining, negotiations, and deterrence. The bargaining discussion pulled heavily from James Fearon’s work. Students learned about credible signals within bargaining including tying hands, which involve audience costs, and sunk costs, which involve the movement of resources like military troops. We covered how time horizons, iteration, power differences, reputation, settlement ranges, and information affect bargaining. Students read the chapter of Force and Statecraft on negotiations and I addressed the import role 3rd party mediation plays in negotiations between states. They also read portions of Arms and Influence and a selection from the chapter of Force and Statecraft on deterrence. We discussed how deterrence and coercive diplomacy intersect. We ended the week with the State Development project. Some states have struggled with attempts to democratize or secure important resources. Few states considered military pacts.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During Week 2, we finished our examination of perceptual biases and began our examination of cognitive biases that often lead to faulty beliefs and poor decisions.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Week Two

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 theme of the choir program this year is THE GREATEST SHOW. As the title infers, we will end the program with some selections from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, but the remainder of the concert will deal with titles dealing with what one might see at the circus or historical events that were “great shows.” As soon as I have the GPGC CHOIR BLOG up and running, I will supply you with a link. That page will have all of the possible performance titles listed with listening links.


Publishing (Christa Bell, Instructor/Editor)

In publishing, students actually write and produce a newspaper for the Governor’s Program. In the first week, we discussed the basics of design and the basics of what makes news. Students spend the first part of each week brainstorming story ideas for the paper. The rest of the week is spent researching and turning those ideas into stories. Wednesday and Thursday the students use the computers and Adobe InDesign, which many of them are learning this summer, to lay out and produce the newspaper. Friday, we critique the paper that’s just been printed, and the cycle starts again for the next week.


Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students mostly did 3D objects related to Father’s Day though some did other objects. Some were successful and some of the prints failed. This is due to the original design of the objects and not what the student did to print these.


Debate  (Robert Markstrom, Instructor)

The first week was spent creating a foundation for argumentation. This Monday brought a new student to class who didn’t have previous debate experience. With all students now present, week 2 was spent learning how to write the first affirmative speech and how to record the speech on a flow (form of note taking used by debaters).


Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week was puzzle week in Critical Thinking. Students worked in groups and attempted to connect as many pieces possible for a 500-piece puzzle within the class period for their first activity. On separate days they worked on puzzle packets. One packet had simple math problems, 2 very difficult sudoku puzzles, mazes, and shape puzzles. Another packet had logic puzzles that ranged in difficulty from easy, medium, and difficult. On the last day of puzzle activities, the students competed to see who could complete 3-D puzzles within a short time period. These puzzles included creating a close-circuit with pieces with an incomplete pattern provided, using different tiles to create a circuit with new pieces added per completed circuit, a cube that contains odd shaped parts that must fit into a box, a square with different sized and shaped pieces that must be 100% filled, and Cubitz. Each activity provided a different type of puzzle for students to solve throughout the week. On Friday we played games. Games included: Blokus, Bloodborne (the boardgame), Chess, Forbidden Island, Get Bit, Hippos and Crocs, Pandemic: Contagion, and Twixt.

One of the best parts of the program

for me was, for once, it allowed me to be one of the "normal" kids, instead of the "brainiac" nerd. I cherish that gift.

– George A., Alumnus