MIT Splash – A Taste of College for Middle and High School Students

by Sandra Foyt on October 23, 2011

in Enrichment Ideas

For one weekend in November, middle school and high school students will flock to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, MA for the innovative and inspirational MIT Splash program.

In recent years, this program has grown in popularity and now draws thousands of students from around the country (and sometimes further) for an introduction to an eclectic mix of subjects drawn from over 400 classes. Demand is high, and space is limited.

Student registration for MIT Splash runs October 18-31, 2012, and the weekend program takes place November 17-18, 2012.

The appeal? My daughter, a three-year veteran of this program, claims that, “It’s the fun classes and the freedom.”

MIT Splash – A Middle School Student Experience

Here is our review written shortly after my daughter’s first MIT Splash experience in 2009, when she was in eight grade.

Recently, my daughter got a little taste of the college life at MIT’s Splash weekend, two days jam-packed with back-to-back classes.  And it’s just whetted her appetite for more.

One weekend in November, thousands of students of all types flood to MIT just for ESP’s Splash program. From fractal fun to Hungarian history to aircraft analysis, Splash participants are introduced to a huge variety of topics by over 400 classes taught by teachers from the MIT community. Want to take a class on Egyptian mythology? And origami? And chemical sensors? All are possible. Students have 20 hours to take as many classes as they want!

It’s an intense weekend.  On Saturday morning, I accompanied Teen Daughter to registration and then walked her over to her first class at 9:00AM.  I didn’t see her again until 6:00 PM. (Note- High School students return after dinner for more classes!)  The next day, I dropped her off at the same time, but her classes didn’t finish until 7:00PM.  She was on her own, among strangers, the entire time.

MIT SPLASH - registration line - Cambridge, MA

It turns out that that was part of the appeal.  When asked what she liked about Splash, she answered, “The classes were really fun, and I liked being able to roam the campus on my own.”

MIT SPLASH - Rubiks Cube class - Cambridge, MA

MIT’s Splash Classes

With over 700 classes to choose from, it’s hard NOT to find fun classes.  My daughter didn’t even try to register on the first day (when an overload of students crashed the system), but she still found a plethora of interesting classes.  She didn’t get into the quickly filled Pen Spinning or Cheesecakeology classes, but she did get into:

  • To Cube (Solving the the Rubik’s Cube)
  • A Brief Conversation About the Baha’i Faith
  • Why Do We Love?
  • Teach anything! – How to fake a presentation
  • The Mathematics of Juggling
  • The Wonders of Recorded Audio
  • How Scientists Solve the Mysteries Behind the Biology of Love
  • 49 Reasons Why California Is Better Than Your State
  • How to Open a Paper Fan
  • The Sacred Art of Ski & Snowboard Tuning
  • Advantage Gambling: the casino business model, the poker boom, and gambling teams
  • How to be “One of the Guys” … Even if you Hate Football

MIT SPLASH - Instructor - Cambridge, MA

Most of her instructors were young and entertaining, many of them students themselves.  One of the teachers was former child star Brittany Ashton Holmes, who played “Darla” in the 1994 film “Little Rascals.”  She taught “How to be “One of the Guys” … Even if you Hate Football.”  Another teacher flew in from Stanford, where college students also put on an annual Splash program.  (She didn’t teach “49 Reasons Why California Is Better Than Your State.”)

Splash alumni love the program so much that they’re starting similar programs under the umbrella of Learning Unlimited on university campuses around the country.

Splash is an exciting program that reflects the enthusiasm and passion of all involved.  Teen Daughter enjoyed it so much that, not only will she return next year; but she’s going to try to register for Spark, MIT’s one day program in the Spring.  We’re also going to look into signing up for the Splash program in New York City.

Annas Taqueria - MIT - Cambridge, MA

Planning a visit to MIT Splash in Cambridge, MA:

Hotel – We usually stay at Le Meridien, located just two blocks from the MIT campus.  It’s luxurious, but with reasonably priced rooms (in previous years, Le Meridien offered group rates to those attending MIT Splash.) And it’s right next to a large, inexpensive parking lot and a grocery store.  Very convenient. For more information

Breakfast – The Student Union offers a variety of dining options, from the full-serve convenience store to a Dunkin Donuts.  Perhaps the best deal are the yummy breakfast burritos at Anna’s Taqueria.  We ate there multiple times over the one weekend, and met Boston natives who frequent the establishment for their regular dinner take out.

DinnerRoyal East – We followed our friends, some of whom were celebrating with a CTY summer camp crowd, to this restaurant.  Smart kids.  The meals were reasonable, delicious, and just a short walk from Splash classes.

Go See It!

MIT Splash

What: A weekend in which you can take multiple classes on a huge variety of subjects.
When: The weekend before Thanksgiving. In 2011, Splash will be held on November 19 and 20.
Who: Students in grades 7-12
Cost: $30.
Where: On the MIT main campus, Cambridge, MA.

Looking for more Travel Ideas in Boston and Cambridge? See:

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

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