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College of Arts and Sciences

Cornell Splash! holds day of learning for local youth

By: Agnes Shin,  A&S Communications
November 6, 2015

More than 180 middle school and high school students gathered at Cornell on Saturday, October 24 to attend classes taught by the university’s undergraduate and graduate students for Splash! at Cornell.

Splash! at Cornell invites youth to the Ithaca campus to learn about virtually any field, from the social sciences and arts/humanities, to engineering, math, computer science and the physical/biological sciences. This year, over 40 undergraduate and graduate students taught 74 class sections, on topics ranging from Video Game Music and Rocket Science to the Psychology of Love, the Amazing Human Language, and the History, Biology, and Politics of Wild Tigers.

The event, which allowed students to take up to six classes, began with a keynote from Tisch University Professor Jon Kleinberg of the computer science department.

College of Arts & Sciences College Scholar Joseph Fridman ‘17 and Swati Sureka '15 cofounded and launched Splash! at Cornell in Fall 2014 with mentoring support from Learning Unlimited, a non-profit organization that supports student-led educational programs for pre-college students.

“When I got to Cornell I noticed there wasn’t a program like Splash! here,” says Fridman, who recalls participating in Splash! at MIT as a child. He believes that the program can benefit the Ithaca community by giving local youth the opportunity to experience and learn outside of their typical classroom.

But the program doesn’t only benefit the Ithaca community, he says. Cornell undergraduates and graduates gain experience teaching younger students as well.

This fall, Neil Chitrao ’17 participated in Splash! for the third time, teaching a course on the Sociology of Infectious Disease, and, together with Arthur Kulawik (ILR), courses on Modern Defense Policy: US and NATO and The Evolution of Military Airpower During the Cold War.

Chitrao is a biological sciences and French double major in the College of Arts & Sciences, but says he is also deeply interested in foreign policy, particularly as it relates to the military.

Like Fridman, Chitrao spoke positively on the numerous teaching opportunities that Splash! provides. “I decided to do Splash! because I thought it was an excellent way to get younger students interested in the stuff I'm passionate about. It was really refreshing to try to teach content which truly interested me … and to see young students learn from me,” he says, adding, “It's amazing to think that I might have sparked a similar interest in others. I might even consider pursuing education as a career field, now that I've seen how rewarding it can potentially be.”

Photo by Grace Chuang for Splash! at Cornell.

Agnes Shin ‘18 is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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