ESP Biography



RUTH BYERS, Software engineer and MIT alum




Major: Not available.

College/Employer: none

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Ruth Byers

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Ruthie loves math, computer science, folk music, folk dance, and teaching, among other things. She has been teaching and organizing ESP programs since her freshman year.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Round Singing: Beyond "Row, Row, Row, your Boat" in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Rounds are songs where multiple people or groups sing the same thing at different times. "Row, Row, Row, your Boat" is an example-- you can sing it in four parts, each starting one measure after the last. Round singing is a easy way to create beautiful music, and is also a good first step to learning to sing harmonies. We will learn and practice singing some easy rounds and show you where to look to learn more.


Round Singing: Beyond "Row, Row, Row, your Boat" in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Rounds are songs where multiple people or groups sing the same thing at different times. "Row, Row, Row, your Boat" is an example-- you can sing it in four parts, each starting one measure after the last. Round singing is a easy way to create beautiful music, and is also a good first step to learning to sing harmonies. We will learn and practice singing some easy rounds and show you where to look to learn more.


Splash Contra Dance in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Come learn to contra dance! Contra is a type of traditional social dancing that’s high energy and a lot of fun. It’s done as couples in a long line, so you end up dancing with everyone else in your set. We’ll be starting from the very beginning, so no experience is needed, but come ready to dance; wear comfortable shoes and clothing and bring a water bottle if you can. We’ll teach how contra works and go over some basic moves, then spend the rest of the time dancing.


Uncool Computing: The SQL in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
… where SQL (“Structured Query Language” if you must) is pronounced “sequel.” Learn about SQL injection, a tactic for getting unauthorized data (read: “credit card numbers and passwords”) through standard user interfaces (read: “by typing stuff into web forms”). We’ll talk about the technical details of how the exploit works and how websites defend against it.


Folk Music Jam in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Like to waltz or contra dance, and want to know how to play the music? Do you play in school orchestra but want to learn another genre? We'll learn the rhythms for a few basic types of European and American folk dances and learn a few tunes by ear and from dots (i.e. from sheet music). Bring an instrument you know how to play (no need to be a virtuoso. Can produce notes is fine). Stringed instruments of any kind, flutes, clarinets, harmonicas and accordions will probably work best, but we can totally jam with a tuba.


Intro to Contra Dance in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Come learn to contra dance! Contra is a type of traditional social dancing that's high energy and a lot of fun. It's done as couples in a long line, so you end up dancing with everyone else in your set. We'll be starting from the very beginning, so no experience is needed, but come ready to dance; wear comfortable shoes and clothing and bring a water bottle if you can. We'll teach how contra works and go over some basic moves, then spend the rest of the time dancing.


Using a Computer like a Programmer (minus the programming) in ESPrinkler Spring 2012 (Feb. 18 - Apr. 14, 2012)
In this class we will introduce specialized computing tools that show you what can be done with computers with a little patience, and an idea of where to look for the tools. We'll talk about the using the command line, configuring your computer, observing processes, and basic networking.


Everything about Accordions in ESPrinkler Spring 2012 (Feb. 18 - Apr. 14, 2012)
Learn about the technology, history, music, and lore of accordions, and get a chance to play one yourself!


Everything about Accordions in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Learn about the technology, history, music, and lore of accordions, and get a chance to play one yourself!


Tofu: Beyond the Jiggly Cubes in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Learn the history, chemistry, and, best of all, practice of tofu. We'll talk about tofu's origins, how tofu is made (down to the molecules!) and learn how to make firm, chewy tofu and soft, creamy tofu.


How to Develop a Rich and Varied Folk Music Tradition Without Even Trying in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Visit the shores of Lake Siljan in Sweden and the fjords of Norway to watch the birth, near death, and resurection of music and dance tradition. Scandinavia has a rich tradition of music played on the fiddle and it's variations, and is a case study on how geography and history can influence culture. Meet instruments like the Hardanger Fiddle (twice as many strings as a regular fiddle, whose sound is featured in the Lord of the Rings) and the Nyckelharpa or "keyed fiddle," which is, well, a fiddle with keys. Their musical tradition has been shaped by the mountains that isolated them and the trade routes that served as paths for tunes as well as physical goods. It was disrupted by the arrival of christian religion and changed again by the technology-induced end of isolation.


Splash Contra Dance in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Ever see how they dance in Jane Austin movies? Replace “stately” with “wild,” and the baroque violin with a ragtag string band, and double the tempo and you have contra. Contra is easy to learn and fun to do. Come give it a try with us! Beginners and experienced dancers welcome. It looks something like this:


Scholar's Bowl Tournament: Prove You Know Everything in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Think you know more than your friends know? Scholar's Bowl is a fast-paced, 5-against-5 academic quiz game where you can prove to them it's true. Listen to the questions and if you think you know the answer, press your buzzer. Drop in to play a round or pull your team through the entire tournament. *For those of you who have played Quiz Bowl, Scholar's Bowl is a simpler version on the same concept- take away tossups and bonus questions and insert just 14 straight-up (usually short) questions per round of academic awesome.


ESP Quilting in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Help make a wonderful warm blanket out of old ESP program t-shirts!


How the ESP Website Works and Doesn't Work in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Ever wonder what was actually going on when Splash registration crashed right when it opened? Find out how the ESP website (or any website) works behind the scenes and what actually happens when it breaks. No computer experience is required. In fact, if you have a lot of computer experience, you'll probably be bored.


Intro to the Command Prompt for Girls (and Boys) in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Not very many girls know how to fix their computers when things go wrong- but they can, and learning to use the command prompt is the first step! The command prompt is the knife you use to open up a computer and spill its digital innards onto your screen. Come learn to wield that knife and use it to enter and explore parts of your computer you've never even knew were there. Boys also welcome.


Splash Contra Dance in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Ever see how they dance in Jane Austin movies? Replace "stately" with "wild," and the baroque violin with a ragtag string band, and double the tempo and you have contra. Contra is easy to learn and fun to do. Come give it a try with us! Beginners and experienced dancers welcome.


AP Computer Science A in Delve 2011-2012 (Sep. 18, 2011)
Computer Science A emphasizes object-oriented programming methodology with an emphasis on problem solving and algorithm development and is meant to be the equivalent of a first-semester course in computer science. It also includes the study of data structures and abstraction. (from collegeboard.com)


The Magic of Matrices in HSSP Summer 2010 (Jul. 11, 2010 - Jul. 11, 2011)
In arithmetic, if you multiply two numbers, you get the same result no matter which order you put them in. Learn what a matrix is and why the product of two matrices depends on which order you multiply them in. The class will cover determinants, matrix multiplication, row operations, and inverses.


Euclid was Wrong: Spherical and Hyperbolic Geometry in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
Can you imagine a world in which parallel lines intersect and the sum of the angles in a triangle is more than 180 degrees? You should be able to- you live on one! Learn what happens to lines where there are no flat surfaces.


Proof in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Proofs are a part of math that is fun rather than tedious! Students will be shown basic proof techniques and then get a chance to try their hands at simple proofs.


Using a Computer like a Programmer (minus the programming) in SPARK (2012)
In this class we will introduce specialized computing tools that show you what can be done with computers with a ...