Program Strands

Multifaceted, Rigorous Academics
The Governor’s School is a two-year, half-day program for 11th and 12th graders. Additional courses will be taken at the home high school to complete an Advanced Diploma degree. Each strand provides a unique emphasis on both the science subject matter and associated career fields. Students will be able to participate in one of the following three strands:

  • The Engineering Strand provides an intense, rigorous study of fundamental principles of engineering and calculus-based physics. Students develop a passion for calculus and physics during their junior year. Building a robot, constructing a fuel cell, and then proceeding to on-line technology that studies air-bag deployment principles in automobiles are just a few of the engineering activities students experience in the course. The ideas of Maxwell and Hawking are studies during the senior year. Understanding the physics behind such inventions as the TV, computers, and magnetic resonance imaging technology round out the senior year. In addition, senior year includes the study of modern physics exploring relativity, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics.  
  • The Biological Science Strand provides insights into organic and inorganic chemistry in conjunction with cell and molecular biology by employing advanced technologies utilized in medicine, forensic science, and research labs. An advanced level understanding of biology and chemistry sets the stage for senior students to argue controversial topics concerning the environment. Analyze water quality and biodiversity during monthly sampling of a nearby pond. Extensive field work and laboratory analysis generates a nine-month database for a more comprehensive understanding of our local environment.
  • The Scientific Programming Strand provides a detailed study of the fundamental concepts of Computer Science (using Java) and non-calculus based physics. In the junior year, students study the fundamentals of object-oriented programming, Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics. The senior year will provide an exhaustive study of data structures, algorithms and simulations of continuous and discrete systems

With small class sizes and advanced-degreed faculty, the learning environment at the Governorís School is truly unique. Each course has been specifically structured to incorporate best practices for gifted students. Please reference the Program Model for Strand prerequisites. All stands encompass a math course during both the junior and senior year. Placement in the appropriate math course will be determined upon admission at the end of 10th grade. In addition, each strand will foster research through a Research Methods and Ethics course the junior year and an Honors Research and Mentorship placement the senior year. In total, students will spend approximately 3 hours at the Governorís School, taking three courses each year during the two-year program.

Scientific Research Experience
During their two years at the Governorís School, students will experience hands-on science through classroom experimentation and individualized project research.

  • The junior year research experience involves
      • various aspects of research methodology,
      • ethics and statistics,
      • critical thinking skills,
      • scientific writing and communication skills,
      • a research project for submission to Tidewater Science Fair.
  • During the senior year, students participate in an Honors Research and Mentorship experience with a professional. Final projects are presented to the local scientific and professional community as a culminating experience in May. The opportunity to work with a professional in research is an invaluable experience toward career pursuits.

Applied Leadership
A variety of school activities, clubs, and competitions provide students with opportunities to cultivate their leadership skills. Social interaction and community-building are integral components of the program. The Student Advisory Board provides another opportunity for students to lead their peers in the organization of the program and school travel activities.