ESP Biography



AMY ESTERSOHN, ESP Teacher




Major: Not available.

College/Employer: University of Chicago Splash

Year of Graduation: 2009

Picture of Amy Estersohn

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I used to study philosophy and literature. Now I spend my days talking to seventh graders about writing and reading.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Book Talk in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Talk about books! Bring your old books! Pick up new books!


Psychology of Shopping in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Have you ever wondered why cell phone cases are so expensive? Or why there are about three or four different Amazon Kindle models or Kindle Fire models you can buy? Why not just one? Why not 10? Or why adults love Apple? In this class we'll go over common psychological mechanisms that companies use to make their products more appealing and compelling. We'll also discuss, if we have extra time, ways to counteract some of these mechanisms.


I Worked in College Admissions -- Ask Me Anything! in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
A former admissions officer (me, writing about myself in the third person) will discuss the back-end of how an admissions office works and how admissions officers read applications. Feedback from previous iterations of this class indicated more time for AMA-style Q+A, so this class is now two hours instead of one.


Psychology of Happiness in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
Many teens think they'll be happy if they get into a top choice college or if they get a new phone. They assume that a bad grade, a breakup, or a broken bone will make them miserable. However, psychologists who study happiness have learned that happiness is more like a skill that can be acquired and needs constant practice than a state of being. In this session, we'll review some of the basics of what happiness psychologists have discovered and we'll practice some happiness-increasing techniques. We won't need a million dollars or a new smart phone: all we'll use are a paper and pen.


Psychology of Shopping in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
Have you ever wondered why cell phone cases are so expensive? Or why there are about three or four different Amazon Kindle models or Kindle Fire models you can buy? Why not just one? Why not 10? Or why adults love Apple? In this class we'll go over common psychological mechanisms that companies use to make their products more appealing and compelling. We'll also discuss, if we have extra time, ways to counteract some of these mechanisms.


Everything you wanted to know about college admissions but were afraid to ask in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
This class, led by a former admissions officer at a highly selective college, will provide students with a way of thinking about the college admissions process from the college's point of view. We'll do some mythbusting (no, colleges are not limited to admitting one student per high school), we'll look at some data to identify where highly selective colleges offer clear advantages.... and where they do not offer clear advantages, and we'll have time to answer some student questions.


Learn How to Learn in Spark 2015 (Mar. 14 - 15, 2015)
This class will show you how to make your learning more effective... not through studying more, not through magic, but through science! Practice and learn the psychology behind simple, effective study techniques that will help you become a better and happier student.


Splash Book Club in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Bring: 1) yourself (mandatory) 2) books that you are looking to give away (optional) 3) your favorite kind of tea (optional)


Everything you wanted to know about college admissions but were afraid to ask in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
All colleges all over the country look to admit students who will be happy at that college. Sounds very simple, but come to this session to learn how college admissions works from somebody who used to admit students. This session will also provide you with a recommended approach to college research, some sample fictional kids, and a time to ask questions.


Thinking About Religion in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Come with questions, leave with even more questions! This class is a discussion-intensive tour de force of thinking through questions about religion that you and your classmates have. You may also realize that people who have been long dead have asked similar questions.


Psychology of Shopping in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
Have you ever wondered why cell phone cases are so expensive? Or why there are about three or four different Amazon Kindle models or Kindle Fire models you can buy? Why not just one? Why not 10? Or why adults love Apple the way tweens love One Direction? In this class we'll go over common psychological mechanisms that companies use to make their products more appealing and compelling. We'll also discuss, if we have extra time, ways to counter-act some of these mechanisms?


We're going to read some modern literature, contemplate some philosophy, and get a little dizzy from thinking about stuff. in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Part of what makes "modern" literature "modern" is that it takes traditional forms and pokes holes into them. For example, real people in real life don't have narrators attached to them, explaining their every move or describing their everyday feelings. So why do we attach narrators to characters in literature? How can we tell "real" stories using words, when so many things are left unsaid? As a class, we'll start reading "The Great Good Place" by Henry James, but we won't come close to finishing it. Instead, we'll spend a lot of time diving deeply into this tale, considering some of the questions asked above.


Thinking, Fast and Slow in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
We'll example some principles of the psychology of risk and how it applies to business situations, as described in the landmark "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.


Thinking About Religion in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Here's how this class generally works: 1. As a group, we develop a series of questions we have about religion. Sometimes we organize the questions into general categories based on the question's assumptions (e.g. whether the question assumes religion to be social, psychological, or cultural.) 2. We attempt to provide answers for some of these questions or to find resolutions to the paradoxes we create. If you don't find the paradoxes yourselves I will provide some for you. Your brains will explode. I will tell you a little bit about other people who have attempted to answer these questions and their own approaches to answers. 3. You will leave this class with more questions than answers and a long list of books you'll want to read. Sounds crazy, I know, but this class got overwhelmingly positive feedback at MIT Splash 2012 and we always have fun.


Thinking about Religion in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
OFFERED AT SPLASH 2011 Where does religion come from, and what is religion’s use, anyway? Is religion more than a set of commonly shared beliefs and understood practices? This discussion-based class will introduce some theories of religion as we consider just what religion is, through the lens of scholars and through your own reflections. This class is appropriate for anybody who is curious about religion- whether or not you consider yourself to be “religious.” We will NOT be questioning/defending the validity of religious beliefs or the existence of "god,"; we are instead examining why and how religious beliefs have prevailed among human societies.


Why your brain isn't a calculator- even if you know how to add in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
OFFERED AT SPLASH 2011 This class will cover some of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make everyday decisions, from what we buy at the store to which treatments doctors choose to how we decide to take risks. We’ll learn through games and simulations, so bring your strategy face to the table.


This is your brain on shopping in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Why do we buy, and what are some of the psychological and neurological reasons for our behaviors? This class will be an introductory, non-technical approach to these questions.


Why you make worse decisions than you think you do. in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
This class will cover some of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make everyday decisions, from what we buy at the store to which treatments doctors choose to how we decide to take risks. We'll learn through games and simulations, so bring your strategy face to the table. This class is intentionally listed as a 7-12 class-- older students may appreciate more of the economic theory and statistics of the games that the younger students may win. This class is also pitched at an introductory level-- I am happy to provide additional reading materials for students eager to learn them.


Thinking about Religion in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Where does religion come from, and what is religion's use, anyway? Is religion more than a set of commonly shared beliefs and commonly understood practices? This discussion-based class will introduce some theories of religion as we consider just what religion is, through the lens of scholars like Emile Durkheim and William James. This class is appropriate for anybody who is curious about religion- whether or not you consider yourself to be "religious." We will NOT be questioning/defending the validity of religious beliefs; we are instead examining why and how religious beliefs have prevailed among human societies.


Starting a New Business in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
This class will encourage you to think about some ways to find ideas for new businesses and how to get that business started. You’ll also have time to develop a business plan with your classmates and present it. Business is one of the few fields that brings together artists, writers, dreamers, scientists, social butterflies, readers, and mathematicians, so please come, even if you don’t think business sounds like it’s for you!


What does it mean to be a teen? in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
This course will cover multiple perspectives on the experience of individuals between the ages of 10 and 20, in other words, teenagers. We'll look at perspectives from pop culture, history, psychology, and biology and consider how these lenses influence teenagehood today.


Blogs, College Essays, and Magazines, Oh My! in Spark! Spring 2009 (Mar. 07, 2009)
What do these three kinds of writing have in common? They are all examples of the personal essay, where the main character is YOU. In this class, we will discuss how to narrate the ordinary moments of your life in extraordinary ways. If you have any work you would like to bring with you, like a blog entry or a rough draft of a college essay, feel free to do so. Otherwise, this class is open to all age and experience levels.