Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Amy Tan- Blueprint for Action

My vision for my Module 2 project is to implement a Splash program at Harvard. As a previous participant in this program at the University of Chicago, I know firsthand how impactful it can be in fostering a student's intellectual curiosity. I not only learned about many interesting topics that I would never be able to learn at school, but I also got to experience what it was like to take classes in a college setting. This was the first time I had set foot on a college campus, so I loved that I was able to simulate being a college student. I also made connections with my teachers, who answered all my questions about campus culture and student life. This experience allowed me envision myself being a student on this campus and encouraged me to look into applying to highly selective schools like the University of Chicago. Without this experience, I would not have aimed as high when applying to colleges because it didn't seem realistic for a first-generation, minority student like me to attend such elite institutions. While Splash isn't specifically designed to serve certain vulnerable populations, it can have a disparate impact on low-income, minority, and/or first-generation students because of the fact that it exposes these students to taking classes at a college campus for the first time. It would be another way to conduct outreach to these students by inviting them into our classrooms, rather than just emailing them through the UMRP at the admissions office. 

What is Splash?

Splash is an educational outreach organization that exposes high school and middle school students to topics that they would never encounter in a traditional curriculum and at the same time, gives Harvard students an opportunity to teach something that they're passionate about. Splash provides a diverse catalog of interesting classes that would allow students to explore their intellectual interests and develop their intellectual curiosity on a college campus setting. 

Vision for Splash at Harvard

The goal is to implement the inaugural Splash at Harvard by spring 2019 with 100 high school and middle school students. Splash would be held on one Saturday from 9-5 pm in one building with several classrooms. There would be around 30-40 undergraduate (and some graduate, depending on interest) teachers, teaching 1-3 hour-long classes each on topics that they are passionate about throughout the day. This would allow us to create a diverse course catalog full of interesting topics for students to explore. Some topics taught at previous Splashes include slam poetry, the politics of Harry Potter, the science of superheroes, and the astrophysics of the universe. Class sizes will range from small seminars (capped at 15) to large lectures (up to 100), depending on the facility we select. The possibilities for classes are endless.

Who can participate in Splash?

Any student with grades 7-12 can sign up for Splash, not just through our partner schools. There will not be any explicit admissions criteria, just an enthusiasm for learning something new. When they register online, they will have the freedom to choose any class for each of the 6 hour-long blocks. They will then pay a small fee online (10-20 dollars) to complete the registration process. Depending on the amount of sponsorships acquired in the first year, the goal is to have financial aid available to those for whom the program fee poses a barrier. There will mandatory media consent and waiver forms for them to bring to the day of the event. 

For teachers, there will be a short written application that requires a tentative lesson plan outline. Then, there will be a screening process to make sure that they have a clear vision of what they're going to teach and how they're going to use the whole hour to teach their class. The teachers will also be able to decide how large they want their class to be, depending on their style of teaching. For example, those who prefer discussion-based learning may want to teach a smaller seminar class, whereas those who prefer presenting may want to teach a large lecture class. For those that need more guidance on developing their lesson plans, board members will work with them to create a substantive class. There will be mandatory teacher trainings to teach them how to properly engage with a class of younger students, handle emergency situations, and other necessary topics for teaching. The teacher will then show up at their chosen time slot and share their passion with a class of enthusiastic high school and middle school students!

How can this be implemented?

The process to making Splash a reality at Harvard will be a long and arduous one. However, I believe that with the right combination of determination, hard work, and patience, it can be done. Here is a rough timeline what the major things that needs to be completed moving forward:

Structure of the Board:

*Each of the directors, other than executive and media/design director, will oversee a committee that falls under their area of leadership. 

Other people:


April 2018:
  1. Visit Yale Splash to observe their operations on the day of the program and interview the program staff about how it was started at Yale, how it is sustained, and the logistics that go into running the program smoothly. This has already been done.
  2. Conduct background research on how to start a recognized student organization at Harvard (RSO). Talk to various members of the administration and staff at Harvard. Set up meetings with potential stakeholders and/or those with expertise in higher education, some of which were found through the guest speakers in Sociology 130.
  3. Start talking to other college students about this idea of Splash. Gauge their interest in potentially volunteering to teach, and note down their names for further contact.
    1. Pitch to Sociology130 students to see who might be interested (who's not a senior).
  1. Organize a core team of students (3-4) who believe in the mission of Splash and will be fully dedicated to making it happen at Harvard.
  2. Split tasks to prepare for the RSO approval process in September.
    1. Look through the application packet.
    2. Write a constitution for the RSO.
    3. Address potential issues that the administrators can find, such as:
      1. The need in the community, both outside and inside Harvard, for such a program
      2. The infrastructure of the club- how it will be run
      3. What makes it different from other programs
    4. Start researching possible schools/programs in Boston to target for participants for our program. Consider starting to conduct outreach for local schools over the summer.
  1. Finalize the game plan for the fall.
  2. Keep in contact with team members- hold biweekly meetings to check in.
  3. Continuing conducting research on community partners.

  1. Pub over email lists when school starts to recruit interested freshmen and other interested students to join the board. Consider holding an information session.
  2. Compile a list of at least 10 names who would be interested in doing this program.
  3. Finalize application for RSO approval.
  4. Confirm interested community partners.
  1. Identify any remaining issues that need to be addressed before RSO approval.
  2. Go through the several rounds of interviews in the RSO approval process.
  1. Hear back whether Splash was approved or not.
  2. Given it is approved, start recruiting interested teachers.
  3. Start having weekly meeting with board. Can recruit more people to join board.
  4. Start developing a detailed game plan for the spring semester.
  1. Assign board members tasks for the winter, such as setting up various logistics of the event, from setting up the Splash website, booking rooms, confirming participants, etc.
January 2019:
  1. Work on respective tasks over winter break.
  2. Reconvene to share each other's work as a board once school starts.
  1. Recruit heavily for new teachers for the program. Can extend to graduate school students if wanted. Email student organizations, teachers who teach large lecture classes (have them put it in their slides + make an announcement), etc.
    1. Approve class topics and teachers.
  2. Continue recruiting schools.
  3. Create T-shirts for board and participants (for sale). 
  1. Train teachers on how to engage a class of high school/middle school students.
  2. Finalize participants by sending confirmation emails and setting a deadline for registration.
  3. Prepare any remaining logistics of the event.
  1. Set up the physical location of the program by hanging signs, creating registration tables and help desks, and posting up schedules in each classroom.
  2. Hold the first Splash at Harvard! 
  3. Collect feedback from participants for future improvement. 

This page has paths: