Students to teach local high schoolers through Splash program
Over the next few weeks, Alan Chang ’14 will begin the search for Princeton undergraduates to share their knowledge of physics, kung fu, origami and hip-hop with high school students from across the tri-state area at the University’s first Splash program event set for April 27.
Founded by the MIT Educational Studies Program in 1988, Splash began when the university’s undergraduates dedicated a weekend to teaching classes to local high school students. The program has since expanded, with nearly 3,000 high school students from across the nation traveling to the Cambridge campus last fall to participate in over 650 courses taught by MIT undergraduates.
When Chang first heard about the program, which was recently adopted by peer institutions like Stanford and the University of Chicago, he decided that Splash could be successfully implemented at Princeton, too.
“A lot of students here would be very interested in teaching things, like I am,” he said. “And this is something that hasn’t been done yet at Princeton.”
Chang intends to recruit students who are interested in teaching a class or demonstrating a hobby for local high school students. In the program’s first year on the Princeton campus, he plans to organize about 100 courses for the approximately 200 high school students expected to attend the event. According to Chang, already 70 Princeton students have expressed interest in teaching for Splash.
The courses proposed for the April event reflect Splash’s mission to expose high school students to topics not typically covered in the classroom. While some classes will focus on academic subjects, such as neuroscience, cryptography and graph theory, other students plan to take advantage of the opportunity to share their creative pursuits. Some course possibilities include ukulele lessons and a discussion of narrative techniques used in the Harry Potter book series.
Chang sees the program as an opportunity that can benefit all participants.
“These are high school students who are very interested and want to learn,” he said. “It’s fun for you and the students. There’s nothing really to lose.”
In the coming weeks, Chang also plans to reach out to high schools in the area for participants. He hopes that Princeton undergraduates from New Jersey and Pennsylvania will spread the word in their hometowns.
MIT currently relies on the program’s reputation for attendance and does not recruit high school students. According to a student director of Splash at MIT, Ben Kraft, “Splash spreads by word of mouth faster than we can handle it.”
Joseph McMahan ’13 said he hopes to teach a course in basic processor design or a tutorial on how to build a computer. He anticipates that his class will provide a unique opportunity for students who have not yet been exposed to computer science. At the same time, McMahan expects the program to be a personally rewarding experience.
“Assembling [a topic] together so you can teach it in two hours to a high school student helps to organize your own knowledge at a higher level,” he explained. “It’s a really cool thing to pass on information on one of your passions.”
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