More than 800 new MIT students arrived at the New England Aquarium on Friday, Aug. 31, with their eyes open in wonder and their minds open to new experiences. The first-year students were brought over to the aquarium in buses from Kresge Oval to the front entrance of the Boston waterfront attraction for the final 2012 orientation event.
The third annual trip to the aquarium, or "The Friday Night Event," was organized by the Student Life Orientation Programs & Events (SLOPE) in partnership with Residential Life & Dining's First-Year Experience program.
In addition to the aquarium exhibits, special programs and performances were scheduled throughout the night. Several MIT clubs and organizations were in attendance, performing dances, improv skits, musical numbers and more. "The aquarium event was a huge success," said Michelle Lessly, a program co-chair and one of the chaperones for the event. "This was a great opportunity for our new students to not only learn more about MIT but to learn about the different clubs and organizations around campus and see them in action."
From 8:30 to 11:30 p.m., students were free to explore the aquarium and its offerings, from the large central fish tank to the jellyfish room to the IMAX theatre to the stingray and shark touch tank — all while surrounded by fellow MIT classmates, staff and faculty.
A new feature to this year's aquarium trip was the implementation of a large puzzle whose unsolved pieces were scattered throughout the aquarium. The puzzle was created by an MIT student and was very popular throughout the night. Manila folders with large numbers written on them were placed throughout the aquarium and students collaborated on the difficult puzzles together, from finding facts throughout the exhibits to solving anagrams and word puzzles.
"We created a unique MIT stamp on a Boston staple," Lessly said, "and we're proud to provide such a unique event for students as they prepare for the start of the fall semester."