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Governor’s School for Computational Physics is back for its 14th year at Austin Peay

(Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2022)

Dr. Alex King
Dr. King leads the first day of class.

The Governor’s School for Computational Physics returned for the 14th straight year to Austin Peay State University this week, attracting 40 of the state’s best high school students to Clarksville.

Each summer, high-achieving juniors and seniors come to Austin Peay for three weeks to enjoy a residential college experience while earning four college credit hours.

The school also offers the high schoolers a chance to interact with other like-minded and highly motivated students, said Dr. B. Alex King, chair of APSU’s Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy and the school’s director.

“It’s that interplay between the students that is interesting at Governor’s School,” he added. “We cover a tremendous amount of material because the students can pick things up quickly because they help each other.”

In addition to the intensive three weeks of a college-level computation physics course, the students also will enjoy a field trip to the National Space Science & Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and presentations from Austin Peay professors in various disciplines.

Dr. Allyn Smith, for example, has offered the students an opportunity to use the APSU Observatory.

What is Governor’s School?

The state’s Department of Education offers 11 programs to juniors and seniors across Tennessee. Topics cover science, the arts, business, technology, humanities, international studies and teaching.

The schools also introduce Tennessee’s high-achieving students to the value and resources the state’s public universities have to offer, King said.

The state provides scholarships to all the students to cover the costs of tuition, room and board.

Austin Peay hosts the Governor’s School for Computational Physics, which is an introduction to computational problems in physics and engineering. The students earn four credit hours by completing the school.

The classes will cover selected topics in calculus and vector analysis, elementary and intermediate programming skills, basic data acquisition and an in-depth study of topics in physics and engineering such as ballistics, electric circuits, structural vibrations and chaos.

Austin Peay students and recent graduates help to mentor the Governor’s School students and lead extracurricular activities.

And Austin Peay’s Professional Mad Scientist Bryan Gaither provides spectacular science demos for the students. This year, he’s planning to show off a reworked trebuchet and demonstrate how to crush a steel barrel using only heat, ice and water among many other things.

The school runs through June 24.

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