PLUNGING IN WITH SPLASH: Students participating in last year’s Splash event try their hand at calligraphy. Princeton Splash 2023 will take place on April 22 in classrooms, dance studios, and kitchens on the Princeton University campus, as hundreds of area high school students attend more than 100 different classes taught by University students on subjects ranging from lifeguarding to chocolate-making to quantum cryptography, and much more. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Splash, Pace Center at Princeton University)
By Donald Gilpin
The Princeton area is renowned for its outstanding educational institutions of all types and at all different levels. One of the most unconventional and most popular is the one-day event known as Splash, which will take place on the Princeton University campus from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 22.
“Interested in mythology? linguistics? beatboxing? improv comedy? breakdancing? game theory?” says the Splash Facebook page. “Whatever you like, Splash has it! Learn anything from Princeton students completely free!”
Created by Princeton University students eager to share their knowledge and interests with area high schoolers, Splash this year is offering 115 classes taught by 133 Princeton University students, with more than 400 high school students already registered and many classes filling up fast. Visit princeton.learningu.org for registration and more information on course offerings and schedules.
“We strive to foster learning for students by students,” says the Princeton Splash Instagram page.
“I think it’s really expanding the definition of learning,” said Princeton University senior Anne Wen, who has been involved with Splash since she was a freshman, led the program in 2020-21, and has seen the program more than double in size. “It’s not learning just for the sake of finding a job, but learning to be curious human beings, and that’s the point of Splash.”
Wen pointed out that University students are encouraged not to propose classes that high schoolers might be forced by their parents to take, but classes that will highlight the joy and interest of learning for the sake of learning.
As the Splash website states in its “Questions and Answers for Prospective Teachers,” “We instill excitement about a topic that a high school student otherwise would have never heard of or would not choose to study in college, in part because of graduation requirements and financial constraints. For instance, high school students come to take a class about Korean skincare or chocolate-making and find themselves a new hobby at home, even if they don’t turn into masters within a class session.”
Splash is expanding its outreach this year with a new initiative sponsoring at least one bus for high schoolers from Trenton in order to give opportunities to students who might want to attend the event but can’t otherwise arrange transportation. Sponsored by a range of Princeton University academic departments and campus organizations, Splash, which used to charge a $20 registration fee, is free this year, including meals and T-shirts.
Wen noted that many of the most popular courses among high school students are food-related, but the offerings are strikingly diverse. “We book rooms throughout the University, and the spaces vary from dance studios to kitchens and classrooms,” she said.
She continued, “Popular courses in the past included Introduction to Breakdancing, Chocolate-Making 101, and Learning K-Pop Dance. This year some of the most popular classes include Poetry Online, Sketching for Beginners, and Introduction to Lifeguarding. And one of the exciting parts for many high school students is that this is really their first opportunity to be on the Princeton University campus, even though they live nearby.”
Last year’s teachers and their courses received rave reviews, as reported on the Splash website, from the high school students who attended the 2022 event. One student praised the “fascinating classes” and the “incredible and super-engaging instructors.”
“I enjoyed talking to students there and connecting with them about subjects they study and I’m interested in personally,” said another high school student.
“The classes, food, and campus were awesome,” noted a third participant. “I loved the people and the teachers. Art block printing was so much fun!”
Registration for Princeton Splash 2023 is available at princeton.learningu.org through Friday April 21.
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