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Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen joined 24 of the state’s top high school juniors in a grand opening ceremony today for the Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Math and Science (TGA).

The students make up the inaugural class for the new academy administered by the University of Tennessee, which opened its doors to students this month. The students come from throughout the state of Tennessee.

TGA is designed to give students a unique learning experience that will expose them to classroom education in science and math combined with hands-on research experiences in real-world settings.

“We are thrilled that Gov. Bredesen was able to join us,” said TGA Executive Director Vena Long, who is also the associate dean for research in UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. “Our students represent the future of our state. They are tomorrow’s innovators and entrepreneurs, and the experience they gain here will be the foundation of their accomplishments.”

Bredesen holds a degree in physics from Harvard University, and during his visit, he met with the students and staff of TGA to learn more about the academy and its programs.

“It was just last January that we announced the school,” Bredesen said. “To be here today and meet the students, it reminds me of the amazing things we can accomplish when we put our minds to it.”

Students’ curriculum is divided into a number of “modules” — multi-week units that focus on fundamental scientific questions. As they work through each module, students learn basic science behind the question, explore the language and history that give it context and take part in research projects that help them develop an answer.

The TGA staff consists of full-time instructors and graduate students with scientific backgrounds and extensive secondary teaching experience. Four residence life staff members, many of whom hold degrees in science or mathematics, live in the cottages with students and provide programming and academic support.

TGA’s inaugural class includes students from throughout Tennessee, selected because of their proficiency in, as well as their passion for, science and math. While at TGA, they will spend time each week in labs on the UT campus and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory taking part in active research projects. Students also will travel across the state to study some of Tennessee’s unique scientific and historical features.

TGA is open to high school juniors and seniors from across the state of Tennessee. More information on the academy is available online at

Key partners in the Tennessee Governor’s Academy include UT, TSD, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee State Board of Education, ORNL, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Knox County Schools.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409,

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