News, On Campus

‘Splash’ Invites Creativity In The Classroom

Hundreds of high school students lined the hallways of Stokes, Gasson, and Fulton Hall on Sunday—switching between classes like “Beyond the Wall: A Deeper Look into ‘Game of Thrones,’” “Life Lessons from SpongeBob Squarepants,” and “Get Real About Israel.”

For high school students, BC Splash is an opportunity to engage with undergraduates in a setting that strives to be as creative as it is academic. The program, which was brought to Boston College in 2010, brings area high school students to campus for one day each semester, allowing them to familiarize themselves with campus life and participate in a broad range of classes taught by current undergraduates.

BC Splash functions under the student organization Education For Students by Students (ESS), which also oversees BC Soars and BC Talks. Planning for the bi-annual event begins at the start of each semester, with student oversight from the executive board and the two appointed directors—Emily Czeisler and Alicia McCormick, both A&S ’17. Since the start of the semester, Czeisler and McCormick have held weekly meetings for Splash, ultimately bringing the day together with careful planning and coordination.

For Czeisler and McCormick, however, their involvement with BC Splash goes far beyond the start of this semester—both attended BC Splash as high school students in the area.

“I enjoyed it a lot coming here and getting to take all of the different classes,” McCormick said. “I would always have such a hard time choosing which one I wanted to take because they all sounded so cool.”

The two joined the executive board as freshmen, and jointly taught the course, “Professors, Lectures, and Roommates, Oh My!: A Guide to College Life.” As sophomores, the two now lead the program, while also teaching classes during the event. Both emphasized the program as an opportunity to teach a class with a friend who shares the same passions and interests.

The teacher registration period for Splash begins at the start of the semester, and any undergraduate can sign up. McCormick noted the low time commitment, as students are only required to submit a creative course title and course description upon approval, and attend an hour-long teaching training prior to the event. Students are given full authority in planning and facilitating the class.

“Students can really teach any kind of passion or interest they have—anything that they’re interested in sharing, they’re welcome to teach,” Czeisler said. “One of the great things about BC Splash is that we have a really diverse course catalog, that the students can come take whatever they’re interested in.”

This year’s course catalog includes over 70 classes, taught by over 100 undergraduate teachers to approximately 500 high school students.

The program is free, and attracts a broad range of high school students—from local high schools in the Greater Boston area to students across New England, with participants coming to BC Splash from Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island.

“All the students who come here are really making the effort to come,” Czeisler said. “When they sign up to classes, they’re really interested in that topic—we offer 10-15 classes each time block, students pick the one they’re most interested in. We find that the students are all really excited to hear what the undergraduates have to say.”

The topics cover a broad range of subjects, with classes in the arts, humanities, math, computer science, science, college prep, and other miscellaneous subject areas. Czeisler and McCormick emphasized Splash’s incorporation of creativity and fun in an academic setting, as students can take classes in areas that would not normally be taught in the traditional high school classroom.

“We really get a wide variety of classes and it’s a good way for the students to come here and just have a fun day of learning, as opposed to in [high] school where, I think, students can easily get lost in the day-to-day bore of it all,” McCormick said. “It’s a great way to really make them passionate about what they’re learning, when they’re seeing—as opposed to the teachers in their classes in high school—students in college who are passionate about what they are learning. So it’s a great way to transfer that passion.”

Czeisler and McCormick also stressed the importance of creating a full experience for the high school participants beyond the activities in the classroom. The incorporation of new programs, such as the Splash Leader program, into this year’s installment has helped facilitate this. The Splash Leader program allows high school students to connect with undergraduate students, who function as orientation leaders for the day.

At the start of the day, the high school students began registration at 8 a.m., and then were assigned into small groups, led by an undergraduate Splash Leader. The students participated in a brief orientation with their small groups and Splash leader at 9 a.m., before attending the classes of their choice from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Splash Leaders had lunch with their assigned small groups in McElroy Commons, and also served as point-persons for the students throughout the day.

BC Splash was initially based on the nationwide program that originated at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT), MIT Splash. In the five years since its establishment, however, BC Splash has developed and revised the model to create its own distinct program.

This year saw the addition of the parent program, which allows parents to participate in various programming centered around admissions and campus life. The programming included a welcome panel led by Czeisler and McCormick, a talk from an officer within the office of financial aid, a discussion with Bridgette McDermott, head coordinator of the Students Admissions Program and A&S ’15, and a panel from undergraduate students on student life.

Going forward, Czeisler and McCormick hope to continue the program’s expansion and popularity both within the BC community and the Greater New England area.

“A lot of programs have a definite name on campus—you say Appa, or 4Boston, and everybody knows what they are—but a lot times, people still are unsure of what BC Splash really is,” McCormick said. “We’re trying to get more BC students to be involved and really get our name across on campus.”

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor


March 30, 2015