The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2024 | JUNE 9 – JULY 20

Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Two – Morning Classes

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Freshman (First Year) and Sophomore (Second Year) Classes:

Flex Science (Ryan Patin, Instructor)

Common Lab Tools, Practices, and Experimental Design

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students spent the first half of the week in the library typing and printing their work to contribute to our class anthology. The second half of the week was spent learning the basics of flash fiction. Students are now tasked to write compelling fiction in less than 1,000 words.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

Week 2 is the week in which Humanities 1 starts their plunge into the general concept of Philosophy and the establishment of Western Philosophy. Students and I discussed that Philosophy, whether or not they are aware, is constantly being packaged to them and to be able to recognize it. We spoke of Big Questions that humans often ask ourselves: “What is the meaning of Life? Existence? Why am I here? What is Good? Evil?” We talked about how our experiences can affect our perceptions can often lead us to having our own Big Question that we tend to linger on—and how that can draw us to materials that help us grapple and understand that question. Students then ended the week starting to read Plato’s “Republic” and having class discussions about it.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week, we further discussed dystopian environments with a focus on the individual’s emotional journey in a dystopia where they are different from the rest of society.  Concepts included friendship, loneliness, bravery, giving yourself room to make mistakes, discussing what were the “right” mistakes, government power structures, the importance of being able to think, time, sensory overload, humbleness, rebirth, and plagiarism.  We read through parts 2 and 3 of Fahrenheit 451 (50th-anniversary edition).

Monday – We discussed pages 71-110 of Fahrenheit 451.  This covered part 2 of the book.  In this section, Guy begins reading books and meets with Faber.  At the end of the reading, Guy arrives at an alarm and realizes he will have to burn his own house.  I had the students look at Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” and relate it to a scene in the book.  We discussed sensory overload, the importance of being able to think, bravery, allowing oneself to make mistakes (and to learn from them), and developing meaningful connections with other people.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 113-136 of Fahrenheit 451.  Then, I explained how the song was written as a critique of the Chinese government’s propaganda after Tiananmen Square.  In this section, it’s revealed that Guy’s wife, Mildred, turned in the alarm, Guy kills someone, and he is almost killed while evading the police.  We discussed the role technology plays in society, the role that technology can play in a dystopia, bravery, jealousy, why intelligent people can be ostracized in society, why a society’s morals matter, the effect society can have on shaping generations of children, and the value of life.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 137-165 of Fahrenheit 451.  This reading covered the first half of part 3.  I played the song “Shiny, Happy People” by R.E.M. and had the students relate it back to the novel.   This reading covered the second half of part 3 and ended the novel.  Guy focuses on the importance of having time to think and runs into other book readers.  Discussion topics included how oppressive governments must maintain control, the spectacle of criminal justice in dystopian governments, plagiarism, the importance of sharing knowledge, how time allows us to think critically, rebirth, friendship, and making the “right” mistakes.

Thursday – No class; Field trip to SOWELA

Friday –Students read and discussed A Modest Proposal.  I introduced satire, discussed elements satires and dystopian works share, and we watched La Jetée (1962).  The students responded positively to the movie, which deals with a post-WIII apocalypse, the search for time travel, and the importance of memory.  The movie is in black and white and primarily is shown through still pictures.  The movie is narrated and dialogue is limited to incoherent whispers.  The students were impressed with how much emotion the film evoked considering its mediums were black and white still images, some instrumental music, and a heartbeat.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

This week was a little short due to a couple of reasons – on Thursday we were able to go, as the whole Program, to SOWELA which is the regional community college / technical training center. SOWELA has some great facilities that we were able to see – including their flight aviation center – the students even got to climb into an old Air Force plane. And then, frankly, one of the disadvantages of teaching while also being the director – on Friday I was called away unexpectedly and didn’t have time (actually didn’t think to be prepared for this – but I am now) to set something up ahead of time). So, what we did get accomplished was to delve into the book’s introduction on why we should study scientific reasoning – and then more importantly , how? And that reasoning is a skill that can be taught and learned – just like Billy would say about Drawing! We also then started discussing theories, models, and theoretical hypothesis, focusing on evaluating evidence and how that evidence helps to either confirm or deny a hypothesis, which then can tell us more about whether or not a theory or model fits the “real world.”

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students spent the first half of the week in the library typing and printing their work to contribute to their individual portfolios. Students were introduced to the idea of what makes compelling characters in creative writing. Students also began to more clearly define their writing styles.

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as a continuation of power and government, especially in regard to understanding totalitarian states and their extreme ability to oppress.  The last day served as a brief history lesson regarding fascism and communism in Europe during the 20th century.  The students finished 1984.

Monday – We discussed pages 156-224 of 1984.  The students did not enjoy Goldstein’s book.  They found that section of the novel repetitive.  The students were interested in the concept of an oppressive state controlling the ability of people to form relationships.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 225-260 of 1984.  We discussed how isolation can affect people’s relationships, the power of torture, and the different weapons a government will use to oppress its people.  We also had a focus on what it means to betray someone.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 118-156 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on whether they liked the book (all but 1 student liked it), what they thought of the ending (it was predictable but they were not happy that it ended on a defeatist note), and discussions on how an oppressive regime like the one in the novel strips a person of all personhood.  I also compared the society in the novel to North Korea as many students thought some aspects of the novel were unrealistic.

Thursday – No class; Field trip to SOWELA

Friday – The students received a lecture regarding the rise of fascism in Spain, Italy, and France.  Unique characteristics of each regime were mentioned along with media from each country.  The rise of Franco and use of force after the Spanish Civil War was noted along with diving into Picasso’s Guernica as a means to show how art can be an outlet for historical government oppression and provide a warning to future people regarding the extreme impact of power and cruelty.  We discussed how Mussolini used Italian Combat Squads to take down socialists and eventually rule as an authoritarian.  We also dissected the change in the lyrics to Giovinezza, the Italian national anthem, during Mussolini’s rule.  I used sections from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will to demonstrate the adoration of an autocrat and explain Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.  I also provided a brief overview of the Bolshevik Revolution in the Soviet Union; discussed famous U.S.S.R. theorists and party members like Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin; and provided an overview of how communism was subverted into a totalitarian system under Stalin’s regime.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week the MGs discussed two systems for identifying intervals between pitches. (Integer notation often called Ordered Pitch Class intervals and the more traditional system) We spent the start of each class practicing interval identification since it is a fundamental concept in more complex musical theoretical discourse. This was connected to the acoustical realm by explaining that the ‘senarius’ (first 5 intervals found in the harmonic series) sounds a major triad. We then found the triads that are subsets of the diatonic scale. This will lead us next week into diatonic harmony, the foundations of tonal music. (c 1650-1880).


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