Spark! and ENGAGE Virtual After School Programs Now Accepting Applications

December 15, 2020

GSSM's Spark! and ENGAGE Virtual After School Programs Now Accepting Applications

Hartsville, SC – The South Carolina Governor's School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) is now accepting applications for its free virtual after school programs Spark! and ENGAGE. Online applications are available.

Delivered by GSSM's Center for Science Education & Outreach, Spark! and ENGAGE are after school virtual programs designed to introduce early experiences with STEM help to build students' confidence with new technologies. Spark! and ENGAGE are intended to impact students through early interest and awareness of STEM studies.

ENGAGE is hosting two six-week after-school engagements offered this spring to 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students.

  • Game Design with Kodu: Activities will center on computer programming through game design using Kodu technology. Students will use critical thinking skills and deductive reasoning as they explore game design with the Kodu software. A download is required to participate.
  • Afternoon Chess with Govies: Activities will center on problem solving and strategic thinking utilizing the game of Chess. Students will explore the maneuvers, strategies, and cultivate the patience required to master the game of Chess. All skill levels are invited.

ENGAGE will take place virtually from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM every Monday and Wednesday. Game Design with Kodu will be held on Mondays from February 1 - March 7. Afternoon Chess with Govies will be held on Wednesdays, February 4 - March 10. During ENGAGE sessions, participants will have opportunities to interact with GSSM students who serve as both instructors and role models.

SPARK! is designed to inspire an early interest in and awareness of STEM studies. In a series of virtual after school workshops, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders follow their interests to learn the science or math concepts behind daily questions or curiosities. Enjoy activities in the areas of chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, and more that are designed for middle school students and taught by GSSM students. Students can select any or all workshops to attend. These sessions will take place virtually from 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, January 26 - March 11. Below is a list of all the SPARK! Workshops available.

Biology: Nervous System

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Brains, we all have them, we all talk about taking care of them and feeding them right, but how do they really work? Come learn about how we think, feel, and be conscious! We'll investigate how our brains grow, how our different actions in life impact our brains, and what's still left for us to learn about brains!

Chemistry: Diffusion, Osmosis & Solubility

Thursday, January 28, 2021

How do liquids affect our world and result in dissolving, mixing, and spontaneous movement? Why does food coloring spread out when placed in water, and why can sugar dissolve in water when sand won’t? In this lesson, we will learn about how concentration (the amount of substance) impacts experiments such as gummy bear osmosis and potato osmosis, and we will discover how temperature and the attraction between atoms can determine whether something will dissolve or not.

Math: To Infinity & Beyond

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

How far does infinity go? Ever wondered what exactly defines a number? In this session, participants will learn about the concept of infinity as well as irrational numbers and how series work, delving into the world of mathematical rules to see what happens when these rules are broken. Participants will also explore infinity through astronomy and the expanding universe. Join us as we explore the math and science of Infinity and Beyond!

Physics: Electricity & Circuits

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Ever feel a spark after running on carpet? Ever have your hair stand straight up after taking off a sweater? Electricity is seen everywhere, yet it’s often not understood well. In this session, participants will learn the basics of electric fields, electric forces, and the many electrical devices from conductors to insulators. Additionally, we will explore circuits and their basic components. Activities will center around the conceptual backing for why electric fields exist, the way circuits work, and then exploring their interaction on our world through experiments.

Spanish: Language

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

¡Bienvenidos! Ever heard a conversation in Spanish but not understood what was being said? In this lesson, students will be able to learn the basics of the Spanish language, including common phrases and words that can help communicate. Through interactive activities and games, we will work to construct basic sentences as well as pronunciation. ¡Espero verte pronto!

French: Language

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Bonjour! Ça va? Do you think speaking French sounds cool? This lesson will explore the basics of the French grammar, including basic vocabulary and sentences. Through flashcards and fun activities students will get a basic introduction on the French language and pronunciation. By the time you guys are on the way out, you’ll be saying Au Revoir!

Literature: Where Literature & Math Intersect

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Ever felt like English is a different language than Math? Are you able to find multiple layers of meaning in both literature and math? Through a variety of literature, in this lesson participants will explore the mathematical principles used not only to create literature but to heighten imagery and deepen its effect. Join us to expand your literature-math horizons!

Biology: Ecosystems

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Everyone knows about the cycle of life, but have you ever wanted to learn more about how it works? In this session, participants will explore a variety of ecosystems with how they work, food chains, and energy transfer between organisms.

Chemistry: Acids & Bases

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

What is the difference between acids and bases, and why do acids taste sour while bases taste bitter? How do Hydrogen (H+) ions influence whether a substance is acidic or basic? In this lesson, we will discover why a lemon is an acid and why soap is a base, and we will experiment with measuring pH to see if a liquid is acidic or basic, mixing acids and bases to create a neutral solution that is neither basic nor acidic, and turning water into an acid using our own breath.

Math: Geometry

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ever wondered if there is more to Geometry then circles and squares? In this session, participants will explore patterns in shapes with the Pythagorean Theorem and Pascal's Triangle through origami and the world around us. (Also introduces participants to origami).

Physics: Rotation & Moment of Inertia

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ever wonder why things spin? And why do some objects spin faster than others? Or how some objects don’t fall when spinning? In this lesson, students will learn the basics of rotational motion, what “speed” means when spinning, and why some things are easier to spin than others. They’ll explore rotational movement and then master the moment of inertia and the resistance to change via rotation with experiments including gyroscopes, spinning tops, and spinning people!

Music: History & Instruments

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ever heard Beethoven’s Symphonies, or Mozart's Sonatas? In this lesson, students will explore the history of music up to the present day, including how it changed over the years to become what we hear on the radio today. Additionally, we will investigate the physics of some instruments, including how a guitar string vibrates or how a saxophone can create a note just by blowing through the mouthpiece. Demonstrations include trying out various musical instruments to see how they create their sound.

History: For the Revolution

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Do you know just how important South Carolina was when the United States declared independence? Some of the biggest battles in the Revolutionary War were fought in South Carolina, and this lesson will allow students to learn about what life was like in South Carolina in 1776 and explore the events leading up to the Revolution. We’ll look at the culture including clothing, society, and government during this time so that by the end, students will understand what the Patriots meant when they screamed “No Taxation Without Representation!”

Computer Science

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Ever wondered how our computers work? Or how we can tell our computers to do something? In this lesson, students will explore the basics of computer science including the binary system, logic in computer science, and an activity in programming. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to think just like the computer that you use!

Marine Biology & Conservation

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Ever went swimming and wondered what was going on beneath the water’s surface? Oceans make up 71% of our world and most life on Earth is aquatic but only 5% of the ocean has been explored. That means 95% of the ocean is waiting to be discovered. Join us to uncover some mysteries of this great unknown and how you can change our oceans for the better.


One of the few specialized public residential high schools of its kind, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) exists to push motivated young learners beyond their perceived levels of academic ability. Founded in 1988 under the leadership of the late Governor Carroll Campbell, GSSM has consistently raised the bar for STEM education in the Palmetto State. GSSM’s two-year residential high school program—as well as its virtual high school program, summer camps, and outreach programs—all invite young people to explore the subjects they love in a diverse, inclusive, and uncommonly supportive academic environment. Here, challenge is viewed as a gateway to opportunity. GSSM students embrace the school’s rigorous approach to education and in so doing begin to realize their full potential. Learn more by visiting