The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2022 | JUNE 5 – JULY 23


Weekly Reports – Science – Weeks Three and Four

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for the past two weeks of the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor)

Week Three

This week we looked at the tools scientists use and they measured and recorded 20 different things. We then used the scientific method to figure out the Sherlock Holmes Mystery of the Dancing Men. We finished up with some activities in which the students performed examples of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion.

Week Four

The freshmen science students learned about the 3 laws of motion with several hands-on activities. First they did the thumping of the index card from underneath several stacked pennies. So far the record is 16 pennies!!! Then they each had the opportunity to ride a hovercraft which demonstrated Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. They also did the ring, bottle and nail activity which showed Newton’s 1st Law of Motion. We finished up the week with a time travel activity dealing with the Big Bang Theory and how motion was involved with that and they saw a seltzer rocket and a common science measuring tool disappear because of density.


Sophomore Science (Mr. Justin Higginbotham, Instructor)

Week Three

Students studied the relationship between absorbance and concentration this week. Students developed lab skills in preparing standard solutions and learned how to calibrate and use a colorimeter.

Week Four

Students experienced a few chemical reaction demos this week and were taught how to research and debate science topics.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week Three

During the third week, students worked toward collecting data. Students planning their own studies were required to work on providing a list of the material they will need and writing instructions to participants. 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 Tuesday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats.

All students completed two worksheet assignments to develop that knowledge of correct terminology in science. Science project students turned in additional written work related to the development of their projects.

Week Four

We spent the week in the rat lab collecting data for the class study. As the rats were spending time in the Skinner boxes pressing the lever, I conferenced with students conducting science studies to help them with questions and suggestions for design, instructions, procedure, and materials. Students were moving toward collecting data, and two finished their data collection this week. Others must finish next week.

Students conducting science studies were expected to turn in a rough draft of their reports. Most did, and I gave them feedback on changes that they should make.

What’s on the Menu?

You may be wondering what your student is being offered each day – so here’s the link to the cafeteria’s website where you can see a daily menu.

You will need to use the drop-down menu at the top of the page to see the menu choices for where the GPGC kids eat. The cafeteria is called “Rowdy’s.”

This menu doesn’t include all of the things that the cafeteria offers on a daily basis including a salad bar, a sandwich bar, cereal bar, and a waffle making station.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes – Weeks One and Two

Most of our afternoon classes don’t lend themselves well to weekly reports – the students are learning songs to sing in Chorus, the music and dancing in Musical, their lines and blocking in Drama, etc. We are looking to do at least one in-depth post over the summer about each one of those classes but for now, here are some reports from the few afternoon classes for which a weekly check-in makes sense.

Critical Thinking (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

Week One

This week the students took a personality test that allowed the instructor to see what types of traits they had (shy, leader, etc.) in order to place them into teams. We also played numerous games in the course. The games ranged from zero sum tactical games (Chess, Twixt, Score 4, Hippose and Crocodiles). I also introduced spatial games (Blokus, Tsuro), resource games (Ticket to Ride), rule based games (Fluxx), word games (Bananagrams), and odds games (Zombie Dice, Get Bit).

Week Two

This week was puzzle week in Critical Thinking. The students were challenged with various puzzle activities. One activity had each team putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle during the period. Another activity involved non-traditional 3 dimensional puzzles including placing odd shaped blocks back into cube-shaped box, a slide puzzle that was rectangular in shape in that students had to match the pattern and color on each side, and IQ Fit (a spatial puzzle game regarding patterns and resource allocation). The students had a packet of puzzles that included brain teasers, geometric puzzles, an extremely difficult sudoku puzzle, and mazes. Another day of puzzle week included logic puzzles.

Debate (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

Week One

Students were introduced to the Greek concept of topoi. Aristotle’s requirements of persuasive speaker was discussed. Different forms of logic were applied in a brain storming exercise. Socratic reasoning was introduced. Students were able to determine the 3 different types of debate resolutions. The week ended with the discussion of the prima facia burdens.

Week Two

The students were able to identify the prima facie burdens as well as the parts of a plan during in-class activities. Negative on-case argumentation types, such as “turns” and “take outs,” were introduced. Students wrote and presented topicality positions. A mock debate was performed to encourage public speaking abilities.

Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Week One

Met the students and we introduced ourselves. Day two I discussed network topology and day three discussed network protocols. We also set up the initials computers in the lab.

Week Two

While we have had some technical problems with the equipment we have, we are managing to go forward so each student has an opportunity to learn.

Drama (Joey Boyette and Keith Chamberlain, Directors)

Week One

Students were given their roles in the drama, according to their auditions. They were introduced to warmups, theatre exercises, and some basic acting techniques. Students then did a “table read” of the script, so as to become familiar with the material. Character analysis assignments were given to the students.

Week Two

Students are getting experiences with different types of theatre games and warmups at the beginning of class. For the remainder of the period, we have been blocking the show each day, and have managed to get as far as act 2 thus far.

Musical (Keith Chamberlain, Director)

Week One

During the first part of the week, students were made familiar with the material through a viewing of the staged version, and were introduced to warmup techniques and theatre games. Toward the end of the week, they were assigned their final roles and began learning the vocals.

Week Two

We are just about finished learning the music for Act 1, and have determined that there are some cuts to be made to the material. Students have been doing very well, considering the difficulty level of the material.

Chorus (Colette Tanner, Director)

Week One

The students are now separated into voice parts and are in the process of learning the warm-up and ear training routine. We are also starting to learn a few of our performance pieces. This summer, the “theme” for the CHORAL CONCERT will be “A BRITISH INVASION.” The compositions of BRITISH composers from the Renaissance to the present will be highlighted…including the music of Tallis, Morely, Byrd, Dowland, Purcell, Handel, Holst, Vaughan-Williams, Britton, Rutter, Webber, Bowie, Queen and the Beatles. We will soon have our GPGC Choir Blog up and running (hopefully by the end of the weekend). You and the students can access information on the music and composers, recordings of their performance music and topics for discussion. Here is a link to the blog:

Large Ensemble (Rod Lauderdale, Conductor)

Week One

Large Ensemble is a group that anyone can join. Preparation for this ensemble is my biggest challenge. I never really know how many or what instruments I will have to work with until the second day of the program. Then I get to work figuring out what kind of group I will work with.

Week Two

Yes, this continues to be one of the most challenging summers for me. GPGC Large Ensemble is full of great children with a very wide range of musical experience. Though not unexpected for this age group, still a real challenge to deal with. In addition to arranging music of the whole group to play, I am arranging music for small groups of similar levels. Seems to be working so far.


Weekly Reports -Musically Gifted Morning Classes – Weeks One and Two

Our musically gifted (MG) students take one academic class in the morning with the rest of their class and then head over to the fine arts building for the rest of the morning. There they take two musically-focused classes (Music History and Music Theory) as well as have practice time. Mr. Rod Lauderdale is our MG Coordinator and the instructor for Music History and Music Theory. He has provided the following summaries:

Music History

Week One

Music History is a T/TH class. The MG’s are working out of a real College Music Appreciation text book. With that in mind, we break the book down into three sections for a three summer sequence to complete the entire text. Common to all summers is a review of terms including topics like; properties of musical sound, category of musical instruments (Western-European and scientific), musical terms like dynamics, tempos and expression marks.

Week Two

This week we finished our review of Elements of Musical sound and covered the Scientific Categories of Instruments. We continued with the Western European Categories of Instruments starting with the Strings. We made our way thru the String instruments and will finish the Winds, Brass and Percussion next week.

Music Theory

Week One

Took placement test and got started on individual theory books.

Week Two

We are all now working in individual workbooks and progressing as planned.

Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks One and Two

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks One and Two.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week One:

During the first week, the I required the students to write a letter introducing themselves to me, but they had to include a self portrait with the letter. This assignment allows me to assess their grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and sentence structure skills while learning a little about them as individuals. The class worked on pre-writing techniques in order to generate material for use in later writings. We ended with a “debate” that made it clear that these students have some very strong opinions! I hope they enjoyed the week as much as I did.
Week Two:
The freshman classes had a very good week. They practiced adding elaboration to concrete details in paragraphs they wrote. Next they chose a character from The Odyssey, decided on two outstanding character traits then used his/her actions in the epic to illustrate those traits. The students enjoyed writing poems and haikus and sharing those poems with their classmates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week One: 
We wrote Imaginative Stories with a focus on Plot. Thank you for sharing your kids with me this summer.
Week Two: 
Descriptive essays
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week One: 

This week we discussed class format as well as senior projects. We also discussed the way that ideas can be formed into arguments for the purpose of essay writing, as well as writing about the writing process in craft essays (metacognition). 

Week Two: 
This week we worked on poetry. We spent time looking at a poetry packet made of poems picked out by the students. We talked about formal elements of poems and how these elements impact meaning. The students worked on poems of their own to be submitted the following Monday. 

Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks One and Two

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week One:
On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. I also gave them a cheat sheet of sorts that they can use for their cursive handwriting. I have been tremendously proud of them and have told them that they have better handwriting than my high school students.

Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archeology and art history can help fill in the gaps.

The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. We discussed the Greek hero and what were considered the most desirable traits for a Greek. They agreed that it was different from today’s standards. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

Week Two:

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased, though some of the students might not be. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.

For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. We also looked at history in Hollywood and how the subject fares in the medium of cinema. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta.

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week One:

This week we set foundations for the course, discussed Utopia as an ideal and how that ideal fails when applied in real life. We read some short stories in the genre and discussed matters of justice and morality. We also discussed the historical context of the stories and how literature can serve as the window into studying any one time or period.

Week Two:

This week we worked on more dystopian literature. We finished reading the second part of Fahrenheit 451, as well as two short stories. We discussed some parallels between these “future worlds” and our own. Finally, we continued applying some of the issues regarding equality, freedom, social justice, and civics as we moved forward to begin designing our own utopia.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week One:

Class began in earnest on Tuesday when we discussed dystopia and utopia within the context of the “GPGC Canon.” The students talked about the texts they’ve read during previous summers: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver, and how these books have helped inform their understanding of real-world dictatorships and totalitarian states. As usual, the students are able to discuss grave subjects in a very mature, intelligent, incisive and often humorous manner. On Wednesday, students received their copies of 1984 and we discussed the historical backdrop against which Orwell wrote both 1984 and Animal Farm. We also talked more generally about why speculative dystopian fiction remains so popular in the West. On Thursday, we discussed the first four chapters of 1984. Popular topics from that discussion include the idea of conformity, surveillance, and whether our society, like Oceania’s, has become too desensitized to violence and human suffering (the students say “no”). On Friday, students presented on Donald Barthelme’s “I Bought a Little City.”

Week Two:

The students spent Monday finishing their individual presentations on “I Bought A Little City” by Donald Barthelme. Tuesday through Thursday were devoted to class discussion on 1984. These discussions are going well, although I’ve had to remind the class about providing textual evidence to support their comments about the novel. Recurring topics were the psychosexual development of Winston and Julia, Julia’s hedonism, competing epistemological philosophies and their relevance to a totalitarian state, and the relationship between language and thought. On Friday, we held a show trial or kangaroo court in class. I do this to demonstrate how arbitrary and absurd justice can be in a singleminded, totalitarian state. We tried Bronson Jordan for several heinous crimes, including murdering a Papa John’s delivery man, slapping a fellow student, stealing brain bucks, and using his editorial position on The Thinker to embarrass GPGC teachers. Naturally, he claims to be innocent. We will wrap up our discussion of 1984 next week and the students will sit for an essay exam on 1984 on Thursday or Friday.

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