FSU to partner in Governor’s School for Space Science and Technology

Steven I. Pfeiffer

The Florida Department of Education has funded a $500,000 contract for a joint initiative between Florida State University, the Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The funding, approved in the state’s 2007 Legislative Session, will support planning for the establishment of a Governor’s School for Space Science and Technology at or near Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast.

Steven I. Pfeiffer

The project is an outgrowth of the Joint Institute for Space Exploration and Research, established by the three universities and announced in October 2006. (Read more about the institute here.)

Steven Pfeiffer, a professor in FSU’s Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems and director of clinical training in the university’s College of Education, will coordinate the effort at FSU. He is a leading researcher in the area of identifying and educating gifted students and is the former director of Duke University’s Talent Identification Program.

"I am thrilled to be part of a three-university collaboration that will provide a unique learning opportunity for some of our state’s brightest and most talented high school students," Pfeiffer said. "The Governor’s School will offer a hands-on research laboratory experience for Florida’s gifted students."

State Rep. Thad Altman, chairman of the House Innovation Appropriations Committee, and state Sen. Steve Wise, chairman of the Senate Education Appropriations Committee, led the effort to obtain funding for the new school.

"We are all delighted to have achieved this initial start to what we believe will become a model of education leadership for Florida," Altman said.

The mission of the school, for grades 9 through 12, is to provide advanced educational opportunities in the areas of science, biology, mathematics, engineering and technology in a residential setting. Also, it will provide teachers summer professional development opportunities in these subject areas.

"This twofold mission will offer an amazing educational opportunity for students and teachers from all over the state to enrich their studies in a unique and stimulating setting," Wise said.

There are 17 such Governor’s Schools throughout the country.

David Cook, head of the Department of Science and Math Education at the Florida Institute of Technology, will coordinate planning at that university, and Michael Hickey, a professor and associate dean in Embry Riddle’s College of Arts & Sciences, will lead his university’s efforts.

Though still in its planning stage, the Florida Governor’s School for Science, Mathematics and Space Technology will provide selected rising 10th- through 12th-grade gifted students with the opportunity to participate in a residential academy at Kennedy Space Center. Students may choose a June 1-6 session or a June 29-July 4 session. The Summer Academy is a collaboration between NASA, Space Florida and Delaware North Parks and Recreation Inc. and coordinating universities.

The 2008 Summer Academy is offered at no cost to Florida students recommended by gifted-program coordinators at their schools. For more information, send an e-mail to flgovschool@comcast.net.