When a Full Semester of Learning Just Isn’t Enough: Splash! at MIT
Every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, thousands of high school students from around the country flock to the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to attend a program called Splash. Splash is an incredible opportunity to learn about countless subjects, ranging from nail art to college level theoretical math. Pretty much if you can think of a topic, it is being taught, and if it isn’t, you can inquire about it i the discussion based “ask us anything” courses. Splash is taught mostly by MIT students, as well as MIT professors and various other random people with PhDs.
Of course, that all sounds great (if you like learning), but this description leaves out a host of logistical dilemmas. Having attended Splash for the first time last week, I am hoping to convey some of these so that anyone interested in going next November will have a better idea of exactly what Splash entails.
MIT does not provide housing in their dorms because they are filled with college students. However, they do discount rooms in nearby hotels for Splash students.
Splash costs $40 excluding food and a place to stay. If you fill your schedule to the absolute maximum like I did, this means you are paying about $2 per enlightening 1-2 hour long class taught by a genius.
There is basically no supervision whatsoever during the entirety of Splash. You check in the first day and are issued a name tag and from then on are left to wander around the MIT campus/Cambridge by yourself and hopefully find your way to your classes with the help of a map. (Don’t worry, all the buildings are interconnected and there are signs and people to tell you where to go if you need help.)
Registration for Splash takes place online at this website: https://esp.mit.edu/learn/
Splash/index.html or you can find it if you search MIT ESP. You view the list of classes (there were about 600 offered this year), star any that you are interested in, and then submit top choices for each block. Who gets in what classes is decided by a lottery. If you don’t get into some of the classes you want,you can switch into any with open spots.
My experience at Splash was incredible and I am certain I want to go back next year. My classes included What Happens When you Throw a Squirrel into a Black Hole, Infinities, Plasma Physics and Fusion, Emergent Properties of the Brain, and more. I met new people, explored the MIT campus, ate good food, and now can tell you really complex, obscure facts about things like the event horizon of a black hole and quantum mechanics.
In addition to Luna, several Waynflete students in 9th and 10th grade attended Splash! and all reported having had a great experience. Following is a report from Henry Wasserman ’17:
Splash is an event at MIT that students from all across the country come together to attend some classes that can range from nuclear physics to cheese tasting to the Roman Empire. My favorite classes were Battle School and Mountains and Glaciers and Geography. Battle School consisted of the studying of tactics and strategy in games such as Diplomacy and Risk. The class was taught by a student at MIT, as most of the classes that weekend were. This particular class lasted several hours, but this was a rarity. The average class was an hour long, but the times were not set. For example a class on biological weapons lasted only an hour, while a class on Roman Empire lasted three hours. Not only is Splash a fun place for wacky classes, but it is also a way to meet new people. I met a rather nice person by the name of Evan in my battle-school class. We hit it off and are still in touch today. So, you should definitely do Splash. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will also meet very fun people.