Lost in Space

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Students from Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties are lost in space this summer.

They are so deeply engrossed in the hands-on experience of learning about black holes and asteroids; they give up four hours a day to sit in classrooms instead of racing around in the hot summer sun.


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The students from the area’s public and private schools are taking part in a summer day camp program, the &uot;Regional Tidewater Governor’s School for Science and Technology.&uot; The program offers intellectual challenges, as well as lots of fun in the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. classes held Monday through Thursday at Windsor High School. It provides these summer enrichment opportunities for gifted students in grades four through seven.

Classes are active and students are encouraged to be creative. Small group learning experiences allow students to make friends with other gifted children who share their interests. The summer camps provide accelerated learning experiences in science and technology.

Michael Hill, the director of the program, said there is no time for daydreaming in the classes because they are unlike anything experienced in &uot;regular&uot; school. The kids are exceptional in that they actually enjoy learning, said Hill.

&uot;They make it so rewarding and it’s encouraging when you have a group of students like those in the Governor’s School for Science and Technology,&uot; Hill added. &uot;Our instructors have a passion for knowledge and they share with the talented students. Also, the small class sizes mean our teachers have time to focus on each of the students.&uot;

Hill added that instructors in the programs exhibit a strong interest in working with gifted youth.

As the students focus their attention on creating black holes, the kind found in outer space, they first created the photon sphere with paint and craft paper. However, when they entered the computer center inside the school, they each began a &uot;Power Point&uot; program that provided details on black holes, asteroids, and space.

Watching the faces of the students and teachers, it was obvious that the cost of the program was nominal when it comes to the experience.

&uot;We have 60 students this year who are participating in the Science and Technology program,&uot; said Hill, himself a former instructor for the program. &uot;The program was initiated in 1992, and this year, we have four teachers who are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with the students. This is an open ended quest for knowledge and the answers come to the students through their activities.&uot;

Each of the teachers has experience with teaching the gifted and talented students, Hill added.

Hill also noted that funding for the Governor’s School for Science and Technology is sometimes hard to find.

&uot;I’d like to see more help on a state level since the school systems are strapped for funding,&uot; said Hill. &uot;The four school divisions donated $86,000 in computers, buses, equipment, and the building we use, and the state gave us $16,000 for teacher salaries, field trips, and other materials. It takes funding to run the program but we must also realize; it is invaluable. I would like to encourage parents to contact state legislators and advise them of the value of this program.&uot;