Dive into Splash!

by Arianna Perkins


Splash is part of MIT's Educational Studies Program (ESP). Image courtesy Wired.
Splash is part of MIT’s Educational Studies Program (ESP). Image courtesy Wired.

What is Splash?

On March 29, 2014, Splash came to the Claremont Colleges! Splash is an organization that began at MIT where college students teach high school students about almost anything, and this semester marked its debut at our college consortium. Priya Donti comments on Splash and what it has meant to her: “As a high schooler, I participated in MIT’s Splash program and enjoyed being able to take so many different classes. Splash is a great way for Claremont College Students to share their interests with high schoolers from the surrounding community.”
This year, a bunch of students from around the 5Cs signed up to teach all sorts of classes: from “Learning to code in 3 hours flat!” to “Living Philosophy” to “Introductory Photography” to “The Culture of the Internet”. The event took place in the Shanahan building at Harvey Mudd College, with volunteers and students from the surrounding high schools. A lunch took place so that college and high school students could get to know one another before heading into the classrooms and blowing their minds with all sorts of cool topics. I participated in this event with Priya Donti as we co-taught a course in “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, so I wanted to share a bit about my experience.

Teaching Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

I was excited to be co-teaching this course, especially since it was pretty much my first time to teach something. I have tutored in the past, but helping people with problems is quite a different experience than teaching an entire class something new to them. When I met with Priya to plan out the structure of our class, we were focused most on making it interesting to the students and having a clear goal in mind of what we wanted our students to take away from the class. Our class would be 2 hours long, and as this was the first year of Splash at Claremont, we only had 8 students signed up!

When the day came to teach, it turned out that a mere four students showed up. This certainly changed the atmosphere of the class, making it a much more personalized (probably more tutoring-like) experience. But the class went very smoothly and overall was a lot of fun. After introducing ourselves and learning a bit about our students, we showed a couple of YouTube videos about what AI is today: how we see it in the media, some common misconceptions, and what progress has been made and where AI is today. We used PowerPoint slides as one of us spoke and introduced different algorithms and concepts, which the other person wrote on the board, drew pictures, and helped clarify what the other teacher was saying.

After a 5 minute break, we passed out some worksheets and dove in-depth on some interesting problems that made use of some of the algorithms we talked about, and were happy to see the students solving and understanding these problems. Somehow, our timing worked out miraculously, and at the hour and 50 minute point, we started to close. We summarized what we had learned, and then brought it to ourselves and what we were doing in CS: our research and internship experiences, and what interests us in computer science and where we want to go with it. After taking a couple of questions, two of the students came up, thanked us, and shook our hands. Overall, it felt like a pretty successful day.

Why Teach?

My first experience teaching a 2-hour class in a topic within my major went very well, and my hope is to get the word out so that people who want to share their knowledge and what they’re excited about with others can do so. I would also highly recommend co-teaching a course for several reasons. For one, it takes a lot of the pressure of standing up in front of a room full of students (or 4, in our case, which is in some ways even more nerve-racking). Co-teaching also allows you to complement (and compliment?) your fellow teacher by clarifying things that may have not come across clearly, and by adding your own experiences and insights. Finally, it is a lot of fun to teach with a friend, and overall Splash! was a wonderful teaching and learning experience.

What You Can Do

Sound fun? Want to take part in the future? Here are some ways you can get involved…
Join and teach! How: Log on through the HMC Portal. Go to Student → Collegiate Link → Sign in and find 5C Splash and join to teach or just volunteer and help out next year.
Spread the word! Tell your friends about it, and if you know high school students or teachers in the area, tell them about it. Hopefully we can get even more students to sign up next year.
Check out these links:


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