Governor’s School in full swing

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seated clockwise, Michaelea Phippins, Glenn Teegaurdin and Tony Artis discuss a project during the Tidewater Regional Governor's School at Windsor High School. (Submitted)

By Shannon Crawford
Special to the News-Herald

Sixty students from Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton schools started three weeks of classes last week at the Tidewater Regional Governor’s School at Windsor High School.

Their interest in science and technology brought them together.

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The rising fourth- through seventh-graders conduct hands-on experiments with everything from magnets to yeast.

Liz Petry, a gifted resources teacher at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School in Suffolk, is the director of the program.

“So much of what is ‘hands-on’ is not time-conscious or space-conscious,” about teaching during the school year, she said.

Founded in 1991, the summer program exposes students to experiments using the scientific method and introduces them to professionals in scientific fields.

The students, selected via a competitive application process, move past textbooks and into the lab. Their studies range from thermodynamics to electrical engineering.

Experiments in chemistry often involve food; students make rock candy and ice cream using principles of chemistry and then eat the results.

When it comes to the nanotechnology lab, students put their heads and magnets together to make race cars, which they run on a metallic track.

Rising J.P. King Middle School sixth-grader Bowen Armbruster enjoys engineering the most, but making ice cream has been his favorite part of the program so far.

Reading and writing are also emphasized. Knox Butler, a rising fourth-grader at S.P. Morton, said he finished chapter 12 in “Things Not Seen,” a novel everyone is reading at their own pace.

A rising sixth-grader from Southampton County, Reuben Leonard said although he likes to play computer games, his favorite part of the program was making a PowerPoint presentation about thermodynamics.

The Regional Governor’s School’s curriculum includes presentations from companies that work in the sciences.

The Jefferson Lab and BASF Global Chemical are a few. Students will visit the Surry Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday, July 24.

Kaitlyn Stephens, a rising fourth-grader at West Side Elementary in Isle of Wight County, was impressed by the Jefferson Lab’s presentation. She was interested in how the lab can clean water and was eager to learn more.

“They all want to be here,” Petry said. “They all come here ready to be engaged.”