On Saturday, April 13, 2019, NJIT hosted its third annual Splash event.
Splash is an educational program where high school students can learn about various topics in classes taught by college students. Created in 2016 as a chapter of Learning Unlimited, Splash has given high school students the opportunity to explore their interests in a fun and welcoming environment.
Learning Unlimited was founded in 2007 by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni who wanted to spread the Splash program at MIT to other universities, and open educational opportunities to a larger audience of high school students.
The students that attended Saturday’s event were able to explore classes ranging from the arts to engineering. Danasia Ali-Cooke, a sophomore at Union High School who attended the event, arrived with the intent of “getting to know more about college life.” One of the events she attended and thoroughly enjoyed was the ‘How to Adapt to College’ class.
Though there was a large variety of students in both grade level and interests, each wants to pursue a college education. Splash gave them a medium through which they could experience the college life and feel prepared for when they start college, whether that is in a few months or a few years.
Another student, Kaya Augustyniak, a freshman at Memorial High School, felt that it was “interesting to learn about subjects taught by those who are majoring in them.” This is exactly what the program hoped would happen.
James Nanchanatt, a sophomore BME major and one of the administrators for the event, expressed his desire to, “show the students that education can be fun and that the Splash community wants the students to enjoy the classes that are taught by enthusiastic teachers.” For Nanchanatt as well as the other administrators, Beatrice Rejouis and Sam Lee (both Sophomore Biology majors), Splash is a great opportunity for students and teachers to discuss and share their passions.
However, these passions were not limited to academics. Though many of the available classes aligned with their academic interests, many students attended miscellaneous classes. For example, despite expressing immense interest in the medical field as a career path, Augustyniak attended the ‘How to Make a Car’ and ‘Evolution of Military Technology’ classes. These other topics allowed Augustyniak, alongside other attendees, to explore various hobbies and interests they may not have known know they had.
The event would not have been possible without the teachers who put in the time and effort to share their interests with students. For Karen Immanuel, a third-year Splash teacher of ‘Introduction to Watercolor Painting,’ this event is a chance for her to continue her passion for art and share it with students. In high school, Immanuel took art classes all four years, but was unable to take classes related to art after starting college. Splash has allowed her to continue pursuing her passion while sharing it with others.
By playing the role of a teacher, Immanuel has also become a student of those she meets. Immanuel stated, “some of the students truly have great artistic capabilities and their art work inspires me. They learn as much from me as I do from them.”
For Immanuel, the satisfaction is in seeing the high schoolers enjoy the class and the creativity of the artwork they create. Immanuel also feels as though “students should explore different fields and get a feel for all the different opportunities available to them.”
Apart from all the classes, Rejouis expressed that Splash is “not just about education but about connections as well.”
Splash is not confined to NJIT, but rather, is involved with chapters from across the United States. MIT Splash sent an administrator to assist with the event. One of the Learning Unlimited mentors, Sam Kaplan, attended the event as an advisor to ensure that the program ran smoothly. Other Splash chapters from around the country helped advertise for the event as well. Rejouis believes that “this event has so much potential for networking.”
The program at NJIT is still in its early stages and has much room to expand. Many of the older chapters boast over two thousand attendees each year and often host an event each semester. The administrators are hoping for greater participation in the future and for Lee, “the goal is to expand the outreach of the club in order to match these bigger chapters.”
In its entirety, NJIT Splash was a widely successful event, hosting 55 teachers and offering a learning experience for everyone.