Fall in New England means the cool crisp air, the vibrant colors of the leaves, pumpkins and the smell of apple pie. For us, fall is a busy time, it's time for SPLASH! No sleeping in late on the weekends, from mid-October through November we are up early, hopping in the car or on a train to get to one of the New England colleges that offer SPLASH (they are offered all over the country).
Why do we do this? My son loves it! SPLASH programs are run by university students to engage middle and high school students in the learning process. Several of the programs are free, the rest are low cost and most of the ones that charge a fee also offer financial aid in order to make the programs accessible to anyone interested. There are so many classes to choose from and they are on anything and everything! Want to Learn the History of Video Games, the Morality of Fictional Characters, Fractal Geometry through Tree Sculptures, Economics Makes Cents or even how to solve a Rubic’s Cube? SPLASH programs offer opportunities to get exposure to topics students may not otherwise have the opportunity. Student may even get an unexpected surprise, such as my son did when he realized Hacking the Mind Through Meditation isn’t a computer science class (oops!).
Unfortunately, due to the short season, many of the colleges have SPLASH programs on the same day. This year we struggled since Amherst College and Yale University both were offering their program on November 5th. (You can see a calendar of events on my web page) We have been to both programs before and they were excellent. My son needed to compare their course catalogs to review this fall’s offerings and pick one of them (parents are not allowed to select courses for their student as the goal is student engagement). Again, for November 13th he had to choose between Clark University and Boston College. Luckily, most schools offer SPLASH each year, in both the fall and the spring, so the ones he didn’t make it to this time he can participate in the spring.
What is a parent to do while their kids spend the day in classes? Several of the colleges offer parent programs where you can take a sample SPLASH class (regular SPLASH classes are only for students), learn about the college admissions process or get educated on the financial aid process (scary for many of us). You can take a college campus tour (you may want to pre-register for these). Several of the colleges have interesting things to do around them. When visiting Yale, you can explore Yale Museum (free admission) and the schools beautiful architecture (if you’re a photographer you probably want to bring a camera). Northeastern is next to the Museum of Fine arts and Fenway Park. If you’re at MIT, you can walk or take the T over to Faneuil Hall and take a free tour offered through the National Park Service or explore Kendall Square or Newbury Street. Fall festivals may be happening when you’re visiting Amherst College. If you’re not adventurous, there are always places to sit down with a good book or work on your computer.
If you haven’t tried SPLASH I encourage you to do so!
“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” – Karen Ravn
Debbi - Proud mom of two beautiful boys who have benefited from some amazing STEM opportunities!