A Splash Of Education At Stanford

By: Anna Zeng


On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 and 30, hundreds of middle and high school students will gather at the Stanford campus to attend Splash, a semi-annual weekend learning extravaganza run by the Stanford Educational Studies Program (ESP). It offers hundreds of unique classes taught by Stanford students.

The Splash Program has a history of offering classes packaged with distinctive topics and intriguing content. With classes like “DNA, Strawberries, and You,” “Warren Buffet: The Making of a Capitalist,” and “How to Be A World Changer,” the Splash Program sheds new light on sciences, humanities, arts, and even important life skills that are simply not found in school. Sophomore Lindy Zeng, a 2009 participant of the Splash program, says, “Some of the topics explored concepts that are usually just skimmed over in regular classrooms.”

ESP is a nonprofit student organization that aims to bring teachers and students together in vibrant enrichment classes through programs like Splash. ESP, as a whole, branches out into a number of other university campuses, such as the University of Chicago, Duke University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Splash weekend course catalogs for each Splash session are completely rebuilt from scratch each year, based on what kinds of ideas the teachers come up with. Yao-Yuan Mao, a graduate student pursuing a PhD in Physics at Stanford, is looking forward to teaching Splash students about smoke rings and air cannons this weekend. “I think the most important thing is that we are teaching something we are very interested in,” he says. “For example, the Non-Newtonian Fluids class I taught last time is a very hands-[on] class and I was very happy to [interact] with students.”

Online registration ends on Friday, October 28. If you missed registering for this year’s October session, it is not too late to sign up. Registering starts at the Stanford Splash program website, stanfordesp.org. There, students can join the Splash mail list before the program begins. Once online registration begins, they may make accounts and register for classes. Class placement is a simple first-come, first-serve process. But be warned—Splash 2010 participant Sophomore Anjali Kanthilal says, “It is best to sign up as soon as the [student registration] comes out.” Student registration is heavily frontloaded; popular classes such as “Quantum Physics” are filled up “…usually in the first few hours [of opening],” says Kanthilal.

“Splash aims to give students a learning experience unlike any that they have had in middle school or high school,” says Adele Xu, a Splash administrator and ESP member. “Take some classes that you think would be useful to you, but throw in a few that just sound strange and interesting. You never know where you’ll learn something.”


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