Learning to play cricket at Amherst Splash

One recent quiet Saturday, while many of their peers were studying for finals, a group of Amherst students became the teachers for Amherst Splash.

Part of a network of campus events supported by the nonprofit Learning Unlimited, the Splash program allows Amherst students to design educational programs aimed at middle and high school students.

 “The idea is you get to teach something that you are interested in,” and that could include your current academic interest or even hobbies, said Shane August ’20, who helped register the middle and high school students.

Amherst Splash members say it provides an opportunity for the middle and high school students to stretch beyond what they usually do, in a new setting.

August recalled his own high school days, when “taking classes outside my school got me interested in neuroscience.”

The hour-long classes filled up a schedule as long as a typical school day, and included topics in arts, engineering, humanities, math, the sciences and more. Here are just a few of the offerings:

  • “Lights, Camera, Action! Storytelling and Filmmaking 101”
  • “Building a Computer”
  • “History of the Modern Middle East”
  • “The Philosophy of Religion”
  • “Let’s Talk STEM”
  • “Wake Up!: The Chemistry of Caffeine”
  • “How to Sequence a Gene”
  • “The Art of Cards: An Introduction to Magic and Cardistry”
  • “What’s Better Than Baseball… Cricket!”

“We try to get hands-on activities” that give students a chance to create, said Sarah Duggan ’20, who taught the class on gene-sequencing.

 “It’s good for her to get on a college campus. It’s neat that students are here,” said Sarah Corbett of Westfield, Mass., dropping off her seventh-grade daughter, Shannon, for the day.

The program, held once a semester at Amherst, usually attracts between 30 and 60 students from the surrounding region, including the Town of Amherst, Springfield and Deerfield, organizers said.

“It’s a wonderful time,” said Kanyin Olagbegi ’18. She taught a class on the brain, which she found challenging to do in the scope of an hour, but she was still pleased that she was able to engage with the younger students, and share her interest. She is on a pre-med track right now, but she said it’s likely that teaching will be in her future.