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Raising a Joyous Oddball? Check Out Learning Unlimited and Splash In

Raising a teenager who takes more joy in set design and coding and tropes than in playing soccer or cruising the popularity circuit or being voted King of the Prom, I would like to say that I found the perfect experience for him later this month in MIT’s SPLASH program. For just $40 (or free if you apply for financial aid), 9th through 12th graders can spend 20 hours on a Saturday and Sunday on the MIT campus, hurtling through 1-4 hour classes with titles like “Inventing Numbers,” “Promiscuous Mode-Network Protocol Analysis,” “How to Write a Parody Song,” “Environmentally Benign Design and Manufacturing,” “Palestine v. Fox News,” “Languages of Middle Earth,” “How to Sound Like You Understand Sports,” and “Advanced Classical Mechanics.” All of these classes are taught by MIT students bursting at the seams with enthusiasm.

I would like to say that I found MIT SPLASH for my son, but he found it for himself, brought it to me, and got me to “yes!” in about 10 seconds. The 4-hour drive south will be entirely worth it. I only wish that old folks like myself were allowed through the doors.

Does this sound like it might be up your kid’s alley? Are you not within a day’s drive of Cambridge, Massachusetts? Don’t despair. Learning Unlimited is a non-profit organization of education hackers growing out of the decades of success with the MIT SPLASH program. Like evangelists (but with a completely different understanding of “Good News”) Learning Unlimited’s volunteer army has encouraged the spawning of SPLASH days and SPLASH weekends for middle schoolers and high schoolers at universities in California and Texas and Iowa and Illinois and Maryland and New York and… well, check out the map.

Are you a university student who’d like to bring a SPLASH or SPLASH-like program to your campus? Yes, you can do that too.

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