Splash expands student outreach

April 23, 2012, 2:08 a.m.

More than 2,000 students, mostly from local middle and high schools, attended the approximately 350 classes offered by the Stanford Educational Studies Program’s biannual Splash program, which took place this past weekend.

The classes, taught exclusively by Stanford faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, included subjects such as “The Evolution of Evolution,” “Speaking of Blueberries: An Improv Comedy Class,” and “Harry Potter Extravaganza,” in which students were taught how to play Quidditch.

The Splash administrative team said they made a large push this time around to recruit more underserved students to attend the classes.

“We ramped up our underserved student recruitment effort this Splash,” said Spencer Boucher, a research assistant at the Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences and a member of the Splash administrative team. “Ten busloads of students who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make it were provided transportation in addition to having their fees waived.”

According to Boucher, schools served included Aspire Academy, Lighthouse Community Academy and Impact Academy.

A new implementation for this spring’s Splash program was a lottery system for class sign-ups, which replaced the old first-come, first-served sign-up system.

“While some parents were unhappy with the new system, it made it fairer to underserved students who may not have 24-hour access to Internet service,” said Splash co-director Aditya Todi ’14.

The event was moved from the Main Quad to Lomita Mall this year, reflecting concern for disabled students who might have a hard time accessing the Quad directly from the student registration and lunch sites.

The Splash administrative team said one of the main challenges this year was directing the new traffic flow, as well as the longer distance for set-up of lunch and student registration.

The Splash team gave out water bottles and t-shirts for the volunteers, as well as to the teachers, who were invited to an appreciation dinner later in the weekend.

“It helped me understand how difficult but rewarding teaching is,” said Christina Wang ’15, who served as one of the Splash teachers. “It really teaches how participation in class is important.”

Reflecting on this year’s success, Michael Si, Splash financial officer, recommended another change for the future. He said he hopes the group’s web team might employ an online reimbursement system for Splash teachers to replace the current paper receipt submission system for the cost of supplies and class materials.

“This way we can go paperless and the process can be accelerated, making it easy and fast for both parties,” Si said.

Along with Stanford Splash, the educational non-profit Learning Unlimited sponsors 15 other Splash programs around the country, at sites including the University of Colorado, Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and Yale University.

“Stanford is on the frontlines of a national movement,” said Chris Kennedy, coordinator of new chapter development for Learning Unlimited. “It’s the second largest Splash in the country and growing faster in recruitment of students and teachers.”

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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