SVGS has programs and courses designed to meet the unique needs of gifted and highly motivated students in different areas. Students may attend in our Sciences (Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology) program.

All first year science students must conduct an independent research, engineering project, or computer programming project during the first year. This project is formally within the purview of the Scientific Research, Engineering, and Intro to Computer Science courses. However, students may choose a project in any area of STEM  that is interesting, provided a SVGS faculty mentor and a community mentor can be found if the project falls outside in-house areas of expertise. Students are required to present their projects at the Student Research and Engineering Symposium held each spring. Students are also required to submit their projects to the Virginia Science Fair or an equivalent venue, and if accepted, required to attend the annual conference and/or competition.

Course sequence information related to specific career is provided on the next page.   Students in the sciences program do not need to determine a specific area of study but should be familiar with course selections available to prepare them for their intended career path.

The SVGS sciences program emphasizes “practical and professional” experiences.  Courses in the sciences program are based on problem solving, analysis, and application with a minimum of rote exercise.  Technology is embedded heavily in all courses.

Professional experiences are provided through research, engineering and computer science projects, student presentations of their work to professional audiences, work with guest speakers and mentors, and providing services to community groups.

Below is possible course sequences for developing skills in a particular focus area.  Students are not required to choose a focus area but are encouraged to consider their intersts and future plans in course selections.

Course Descriptions 2020-21

Governor’s School Pre-calculus (3162) – Precalculus, sometimes called “Introductory Analysis”, is a class that builds on the skills students gained in Algebra II to develop students’ understanding of a broad range of mathematical topics. Precalculus is more than just a stepping stone along the way to Calculus.  Students can expect to deepen their understanding of what functions are, how they work, and how they relate to their graphs; broaden their exposure to different kinds of math with new functions, operations, & algorithms; acquire new problem-solving tools and                    techniques; use the latest mathematical technology to analyze data & graph functions; and challenge themselves to see the world analytically.

Governor’s School Calculus (DE3231) – Students become proficient with limits, the derivative and differentiation techniques, the integral and integration techniques, basic applications of differentiation and integration, and infinite series, including Taylor Series.  Students explore the fundamental relationship between the derivative, the integral, and the Riemann Sum.  Students begin their study of multidimensional calculus including vectors and parametric equations.  Students enhance their learning through computer-based activities utilizing Maple and Excel.  Prerequisite: Any Pre-Calculus class; Pre-Requisite for Dual Enrollment Credit: Pre-Calculus course and qualifying scores on the VPT Calculus placement test or completion of dual enrollment Pre-calculus.  Students may take this class for BRCC credit (MTH 263-264 4 credits each for total of 8 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School AP Calculus BC (3177) – AP Calculus BC is organized around four foundational concepts: limits, derivatives, integrals, and series.   The course is equivalent to two college semesters of calculus and students may seek advanced college placement or college credit for successful completion of the course and exam.  AP Calculus is primarily concerned with developing the students’ understanding of the concepts of calculus and providing experience with its methods and applications. The course emphasizes a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results and problems being expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally.  Technology is used regularly by students and teachers to reinforce the relationships among multiple representations of functions and is also used to confirm written work, to implement experimentation, and to assist in interpreting results.  Through the unifying themes of limits, derivatives, integrals, and series, the course is presented as a cohesive study of the “mathematics of change.”  Pre-requisite: SVGS Pre-Calculus (grade of A- or better) or a dual-enrollment pre-calculus class (grade of A- or better).

Governor’s School Advanced Calculus: Multivariable Calculus (3178) Concepts learned during the first year of calculus to advanced problems in multi-dimensional analysis.  Students investigate topics including rectangular, spherical and cylindrical coordinates, three-dimensional vectors, partial differentiation, multiple integrals and matrices.  Students’ understanding of multi-dimensional mathematics is enhanced with computer visualization techniques. This course is designed for students who have exceptional math skills.  Pre-requisite: AP Calculus B.C. or SVGS Calculus (grade of B or better).

Governor’s School Discrete Mathematics (3154) – Discrete mathematics is the branch of mathematics dealing with objects that can assume only distinct, separated values. This course offers a nice counterpoint to the study of continuous mathematics that students pursue in calculus. Because the ideas of discrete mathematics inform the study of computer science, this course will emphasize the connections between them through classroom examples and lab experiences.  Students will explore the logic of compound and quantified statements and their application in digital logic circuits and programming. Students will develop an understanding of elementary number theory through the application of various methods of proof; including direct, indirect, contradiction, counterexample and induction. Students will study set theory with an emphasis on functions as relations of sets and its application in computer fields such as cryptography. Students will also be introduced to the basics of counting through the study of combinatorics and probability.  Students in this class must enroll for dual enrollment credit with James Madison University at their expense (CS/MTH 227, 3 credits).

Governor’s School  Statistics (3192) – The purpose of the course is to present an overview of statistics, including descriptive statistics, elementary probability, probability distributions, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlation, linear regression, advanced regression topics, experimental design, analysis of variance, chi-square tests and non-parametric methods. This course uses computer software (R) to conduct simulations, analyze data, and construct models.   An emphasis on clear communication of data is made throughout the course as students learn the first principles of statistics and data science.   Projects provide opportunities to apply course concepts in realistic settings.  Pre-requisite: completion of Pre-Calculus (grade of C or better) and prior completion or concurrent enrollment in any Calculus class.  Students may take this class for BRCC credit (MTH 245 -3 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Math Modeling (2999) – Mathematical modeling is an area of applied mathematics that uses mathematical tools for exploring and studying real-world problems.  Students will apply mathematical reasoning to understand aspects of our physical, biological, social and economic environment.  Students will study and create models, analyze assumptions used in forming those models, and test the models against real world data using a variety of different mathematical branches (calculus, statistics, geometry, algebra, etc.). Computer simulation tools (MATLAB) will be used throughout the course to aide in constructing, analyzing, and gaining insight from mathematical models. Pre-Requisite: Students are expected to have completed a Calculus course sequence or be co-enrolled in Calculus with a teacher recommendation.

Science Courses:

Governor’s School College Physics (4700) – This course is the first and second semester of a non-calculus sequence in general physics. Topics first semester include principles of Newtonian mechanics, thermal properties of matter, fluid mechanics, and select topics in special relativity. A working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is required. Topics second semester include electric charges, circuits, magnetism, optics, atomic and nuclear physics. A working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is required.  Students will investigate physical phenomena through both theory (problem-solving and conceptual discussions) and experimentation.

Governor’s School Modern Physics (4520) – Students explore the theoretical study of Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics with an emphasis on computer models of the processes involved.  Topics covered include Special Relativity, the Schrödinger equation, tunneling phenomena, General Relativity, Elementary Particle Physics, and the Hydrogen Atom.  Students enhance their learning through extensive laboratory investigations and simulations. Students become proficient in the use of technology to analyze and present data. Pre-requisites: GS Physics, and GS Pre-Calculus or GS Calculus.

Governor’s School AP Chemistry (4770) AP Chemistry is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first year of college. Through classroom and laboratory experiences, students will develop inquiry and reasoning skills that prepare them for the study of advanced topics in subsequent college courses.  Examples of such skills include designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical routines, and connecting concepts in and across domains.  Students may seek advanced college placement or college credit for successful performance on the AP Chemistry exam at the end of the course.  Pre-requisites: Chemistry (grade of A- or better)

Governor’s School Environmental Chemistry (DE4701) – The purpose of this course is to develop a student’s general chemistry knowledge, skills and understanding as well as an awareness and appreciation of issues related to chemistry in the environment. Mathematical modelling, critical thinking, research, lab work and projects all contribute to a student’s scientific learning. Collaboration and communication skills will also be emphasized as important components of this course.  The general chemistry topics include matter & energy, atomic structure, the periodic table, chemical bonding, gases, thermochemistry, solutions and acids & bases. Environmental topics include energy, air pollution and water pollution. Other advanced topics include nuclear chemistry, electrochemistry and organic chemistry. Successful completion of this course will prepare students for further studies in STEM fields.  Students may opt to take the class for JMU credit (ISAT 112, 4 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Advanced Environmental Science (DE4702)   Students will examine the diversity of local ecosystems and how these ecosystems are affected by land-use, energy use, waste management, water quality, recycling, conservation, restoration, and geology.  Students will use this information to develop an independent research project.  Students may opt to take the class for JMU credit (ISAT 112, 4 credits) at their own expense.   Pre-requisites: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Pre-Calculus, completion of Earth Science is strongly recommended.

Governor’s School Aquatic Ecology   Students will investigate the physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring in aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands while becoming familiar with the techniques used for researching these ecosystems.  They will study the properties of water, stream flow, types of aquatic systems, nutrient cycling, and organisms as a part of the overall ecosystems including productivity and interactions.  Pre-requisites: Strong performance (grade of A- or better) in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science required.  A strong interest in pursuing a career in environmental science or related field.

Governor’s School Biomechanics  –The objective of this course is to apply engineering principles to structure/function relationships in human physiological systems. This course aims to provide students with a strong foundation for biomechanics and biofluids using biology and physics to perform simple analysis on human systems.  Student will learn how to:

  • Employ correct anatomical and mechanical terminology
  • Discuss fundamental Newtonian mechanics that underlie all forms of human motion
  • Integrate anatomy and mechanics of musculoskeletal system elements in motion
  • Discuss fundamental fluid mechanics involved with locomotor and physiological systems
  • Describe and interpret material/mechanical properties of biomaterials  (i.e. tissues, blood, fluids, bone)
  • Understand physics governing fluid mechanics pertaining to human body fluid flows.

This is intended to be an applied and interdisciplinary science course which integrates many STEM topics.  This would be a good course for any students interested in the medical field, biomedical engineering or those who enjoy sciences and STEM topics but have not yet narrowed down a focus.

Governor’s School Molecular and Microbiology (DE4703) –This course introduces current topics in the life science technologies through lecture and laboratory exercises. Topics include advances in genetic engineering, the hierarchy of life and the rise of infectious diseases.”  In the context of broad biological principles, students explore infectious diseases, epidemiology, immunity, genetics, cell structure and function, biochemistry, gene expression, biotechnology, and bioethics. Laboratory investigations include culture and identification of microbes, immunotechnology, DNA extraction and amplification, gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction, and bacterial transformation. Mechanical and computer molecular modeling are used to further students’ understanding of the structure of biological molecules.  Case studies are used to encourage students to apply the scientific concepts discussed in class.  Projects encourage students to synthesize and apply their understanding of these concepts.  Formal scientific writing and presentations develop students’ abilities in oral and written communication.  Pre-requisites: Biology, Chemistry, Physics (all with grades of B or better) and Pre-Calculus.  Students may opt to take this class for dual enrollment credit with James Madison University at their own expense (ISAT 113, 4 credits). 

Governor’s School Scientific Research (4321) – The Scientific Research course is designed to introduce students to research methods in the sciences.  During first semester, students explore science research methods through laboratory work and simulations in order to develop understanding and skills in experimental design, data collection and analysis, and internet and print source research.  They then apply these skills to design and conduct an independent research project, either individually or with a partner.  Second semester work emphasizes completion of project and communication of project results, including the preparation of a formal scientific research paper.  Throughout the course, students use a variety of computer applications including word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software, applets and simulations, and online search engines and research databases.  Students ultimately share their work in a variety of ways: optional submission of their research papers to an online science journal for publication, participation in the regional Intel science fair, and formal presentation of their projects at the SVGS research symposium.

Governor’s School Advanced Scientific Research  – Students extend their study of research methods through independent research and requires work with a scientific mentor outside of SVGS ( professor, professional in the field) in addition to supervision by a SVGS staff member.  Students apply principles of the natural sciences and applied statistics in solving research and engineering problems.  Students complete an individual research project, write a scientific paper, and submit their results for presentation at various venues, including the SVGS Research Symposium (participation is required), science fairs, and paper submission to student research journals for publication.  They make use of on-line libraries and scholarly scientific resources. *THIS IS AN INDEPENDENT STUDY.  Participation in the regional science fair in March is required (poster, paper and presentation) is required.  Pre-requisites: Scientific research or director approval.

Technology Courses:

Governor’s School Introduction to Computer Science (21563) – This course is designed to provide an introduction to two major areas of computer science – networking and programming.  Students will first examine the parts of a computer (software/hardware), how each functions, and what constitutes a good example of those parts.  Students will then examine how to build a network by adding computers to a small network in the class and connecting to them to the internet.  Additionally, students will create mobile apps using App Inventor and will use Python to develop coding and programming skills to creatively interact with technology.  This course also serves to provide background for advanced courses in computer science.

 Governor’s School AP Computer Science (A) (3185) – The AP Computer Science A course is an introductory course in computer science. Because the design and implementation of computer programs to solve problems involve skills that are fundamental to the study of computer science, a large part of the course is built around the development of computer programs that correctly solve a given problem. These programs should be understandable, adaptable, and, when appropriate, reusable. At the same time, the design and implementation of computer programs is used as a context for introducing other important aspects of computer science, including the development and analysis of algorithms, the development and use of fundamental data structures, the study of standard algorithms and typical applications, and the use of logic and formal methods. In addition, the responsible use of these systems is an integral part of the course.  Pre-requisites: completion of Pre-Calculus (grades of A- or better) OR permission of the Director and Instructor.

Governor’s School Cyber Security (103023) – Students are provides instruction in the basics of computer networking, software operations, network administration and network security.  Course content includes an overview of networking, LINUX, cloud services and SSH (Linux Virtual Machines, and Secure Shell), Windows operating systems, Linux web servers (Apache, HTML and PHP), BASH scripting and cryptology. Course content also includes risk management, network security policy, security training, security keys, confidentiality, integrity, access, accountability, and audit ability.  Participation in various industry sponsored contests such as Cyber Patriots and other  contests are expected.


Governor’s School Engineering I (8491) Engineering I is an introductory course designed to help aspiring engineers develop knowledge, skills and understanding of the engineering design process. Key topics include the historical significance of engineering, along with the modern engineering skills, tools and practices related to civil, mechanical, environmental, electrical & computer engineering. Emphasis will be on teamwork and developing the ability to analyze complex problems and implementing effective solutions. This is a project-based class that will require independent thinking, communication & documentation.

 Governor’s School Engineering II (84914)– Engineering II is designed to help aspiring engineers continue to develop knowledge, skills and understanding of the engineering design process. Key topics include the historical significance of engineering, along with the modern engineering skills, tools and practices related to the various engineering fields. Human factors, the manufacturing process and product life cycles will also be emphasized. Communication skills, teamwork and the ability to analyze complex problems and implement effective solutions will be developed through projects related to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s or Drones) and innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Governor’s School Geospatial Information Systems (8466) – This course covers the fundamentals of Geospatial Information System (GIS) technology. During the first semester, students will focus on building skills related to GIS technologies and applying these skills to different fields, such as medicine, urban planning, ecology and many others. Through the use of lecture and lab exercises, students will learn how to collect, organize, analyze and display geographic data.  The second semester of the course will focus on students applying the skills learned during first semester to their own GIS project.  They will also continue to learn new skills in class and as they pertain to their individual projects for ArcMap and ArcGIS online. Students in this class must enroll for dual enrollment credit with James Madison University at their expense (GEOG 161, 3 credits).

 Governor’s School Machine Learning – Students will study how computers are used to extract knowledge from data. The class will combine statistics, artificial intelligence, and computer science to solve problems in a number of different commercial and research fields such as medical diagnosis and treatment, movie recommendations, or playing chess. Students will solve problems by programing their own machine learning algorithms using the Python programing language and current industry standard techniques. Using common machine learning algorithms, students will analyze the classes of problems that can be solved, develop strategies for testing what the computer has learned, and apply these techniques to real world data. Supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms will be addressed along with more specialized systems (neural networks, computer vision, natural language processing, recommendation systems, etc.). The class is appropriate for students with some experience in coding.

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