Making A Splash
High Schoolers Flood BC For A Variety Of Student-Taught Classes
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Boston College was inundated with over 650 high school students this Sunday for the fourth installation of BC Splash. Running from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., the program brought together high school students with BC undergrads for a day of unorthodox classes. With a large diversity of topics, the classes explored academic interests that do not always come up in traditional classes and gave BC undergrads an opportunity to teach others about their passions.
Started at BC by Hanyin Chang, A&S ’12, in the fall of 2010, BC Splash is modeled on MIT Splash. Although the first semester had only 250 students, the program has grown substantially every semester since its inception. More important to Chang than the numbers, however, is the environment and the mission: “Education for Students by Students.”
“When I was in high school, I participated in MIT Splash and had a blast,” Chang said. “When you are in high school, you don’t have a lot of choices of what you can take. I enjoyed the close interactions with college students on topics that they were passionate about. When I enrolled at BC, I wanted to create the same sort of platform here at BC.”
When he was a sophomore, Chang began the planning that saw its first fruits in the fall of his junior year. This year, Megan Shein, A&S ’13, has taken the helm and has attempted to expand both the number of courses offered and the number of students reached. She also shares Chang’s goal of focusing first on the quality, however. This semester, they brought in professors from the Lynch School to hold workshops for the teachers on how to teach.
“There is often a disconnect between academic passions and real life,” said Aexis Cox, director of public relations for BC Splash and LSOE ’14. “BC Splash is a reminder of what we are interested in and why–what are the passions that drive our academic interests.”
Shein stressed that there was more to the program and the classes than what one might originally see. She described “College Cooking 101” as “a discussion-based class about what college life is really like.” Some of the other popular classes were “Explosive Chemistry” and “How to Avoid Awkwardness,” both of which were filled with students. Shein explained that classes like these are really about “inspiring high school students to think.”
Though Cox said that there were a lot of students that come back semester after semester, she focused on some new programs that BC Splash has implemented to reach out to more students. One of these was a new outreach program that used student ambassadors at the high schools to generate interest in the program.
“We have changed our tactic from just getting them to sign up to getting them actually interested,” Cox said. “We have reached out to teachers to offer extra credit. We have increased student contact. We have found that the high-schoolers are excited to meet BC students, so we have asked the student teachers to e-mail their students.”
After handing the directorship of the program to Shein, Chang has focused his energies this year on the umbrella organization that runs BC Splash, “Education for Students by Students” (ESS). He formed ESS this year so that Splash could get funding as an RSO from the SOFC. ESS has also started another program this year, BCTalks, which is based on TEDTalks. When Chang realized that there was a lot of interest by BC students in what their peers were teaching in Splash, he got the idea to start BCTalks as way for students to share their passions with their peers.
“People put on a mask here,” Chang said. “They don’t like to show they have genuine interest in school and learning. [BC Splash and BCTalks] are ways for them to take off that mask and share what they really care about. There is so much we can learn from one another.”