BC Splash Offers Students Both Academic And Creative Classes

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Often, the most interesting choice high school students get to make is choosing between Advanced Placement (AP) Biology or AP Chemistry, but hundreds of high school students in the Boston area have a choice twice a year to take classes like Psychology in Pop Culture and PhiLOSTophy.

BC Splash is the Boston College chapter of a nationwide group that offers student-taught classes to high school students for one day each semester. The organization, which originated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been active at BC for four years and attracts between 300 and 1,000 high school students. There are between 80 and 120 teachers who teach one or more one- to two-hour classes. Splash is part of Education (ESS) for Students by Students, which also includes BC Talks, BC Soars, and BC Ignites.

“We get high school students who are really motivated,” said co-director Annie Meyer, A&S ’14. “It gets them away from the monotony of their regular classes. So it gets them inspired.”

Splash started at MIT several years ago. The main differences between the two Boston-area programs are the price-MIT’s Splash cost 40 dollars in 2013-and the types of classes offered.

“MIT has a lot more academic classes, whereas ours have a creative twist on them,” said co-director Abby Horgan, A&S ’15. “You probably wouldn’t find making friendship bracelets and the history behind it at an MIT Splash.”

Although the program at BC is still fairly new, it has already grown to be the third largest Splash program in the nation. Meyer credits this success to the dedication of the original editorial board and to BC’s reputation.

“We had amazing, dedicated people who started the program here, and they spent a huge amount of time reaching out to every single school possible,” she said. “It’s pretty nice to send your high school kids to a program that’s for everybody, at such a prestigious school because that’s not what schools usually offer.”

Members of the BC Splash team are selected every semester. There are multiple ways for BC students to get involved-they can teach a class, lead a small group for tours and lunch, or be a general volunteer.

“It’s just a very cool and different idea that anyone can get involved in,” Horgan said.

In addition, students can apply to be on the 16-person executive board, which has three branches. One branch deals with community outreach, one with BC students, and one with day-of logistics.

Meyer and Horgan direct all of these branches through weekly meetings, emails and phone calls. They are also the point-people on the day of the event.

The organization hopes to continue to grow in the future. Meyer stated that one important goal is to keep the number of students involved steady, because in the past there has been a lot of fluctuation in attendance. In addition, she hopes to strike a better balance between academia and creativity within a single class. A problem they have noticed in the past is that students will gravitate toward more creative classes, like cupcake decorating, and more academic classes will not fill up.

“Our goal is to get every class to have a really nice balance of creative and academic,” she said. “We want that balance because that’s what’s most motivating for students.”

Through classes that combine creativity and academics, BC Splash inspires both high school students and the college students that teach the classes. Meyer said the program fosters confidence and gives teachers a chance to hone their speaking skills in front of a forgiving audience. High school students will always be appreciative of their college-age teacher, Horgan said.

“I think Splash is also really important beyond being a role model,” Horgan said. “Your life could be collapsing around you, you could have failed a test and gotten in a fight with your roommate and everything seems like it’s falling apart. But, there are still people out there in the world who are very appreciative of the gifts and talents you have to share. It’s a nice confidence-booster for BC kids and a nice reminder that even if things aren’t going so great, there are still people out there who can appreciate what you have to offer.”

Carolyn Freeman is the Editor-in-Chief for The Heights. You can follow her on Twitter at @carolynrfreeman. She drinks her coffee iced with chocolate soy milk.

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