Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekly Blog #18- Original Work and AcDec

This week in ISM, I worked a lot more on Original Work as the deadline is in less than two weeks! I tested signals from different sources, including contact with skin, a battery, and my dad's circuits for his work. This was actually pretty fun, because each graph had its unique characteristics and calculations. For example, the graph from touching the probe to my finger displayed a frequency of around 60 Hz. I had expected zero, but I found that this is because skin is conductive, and creates a crude antenna that picks up the electric field surrounding me (most wall outlets are 60 Hz). I have also found a couple of applications for oscilloscopes so far, including heartbeat monitors. One of the reasons why I chose EE is because of the fun involved in exploring an instrument or discovering something on my own. I am really considering creating a tangible Final Product, as my Original Work is more of an exploration of something that already exists.

As a brief recap of our AcDec meet, Liberty placed fourth at Regionals and will likely advance to State. A large part of our success in the subjective areas (speech and interview) was because of the practice we had in ISM class. Though I still hope to bring up my interview score, I will look forward to State and practice hard!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekly Blog #17- Final Product Ideas

This past week in ISM, I brainstormed ideas for Final Product and did a SWOT analysis of each one. With Mr. Arellano's idea of using logic gates to program lights, I thought of building an educational kit for kids to experiment on. This would serve a bigger purpose of enabling children to get a hands-on lab experience of electrical engineering and logical thinking. Current kits appear bland and intimidating, and the ones that are more eye-catching are virtual. Although this won't directly benefit me in terms of EE knowledge, this idea is more original and impactful. I'm not sure if I would settle on this idea yet, because I also have the option of programming circuit boards, which would give me experience prior to college, but may not guarantee a long-term impact. These are my two main ideas as of now, so I hope to keep brainstorming while building a foundation in coding and circuits. 

As for Original Work, I have completed the general procedure and graphical analysis of one of my trials. I will likely test another source this weekend and get started on my Research Showcase video. Once these are complete, I will upload them on this blog for all to see!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Blog #16- Mentor Visits

On Friday, I conducted my first mentor visit with Mr. Arellano! We went over a general outline for the next months leading up to Original Work, Final Presentation Night, and Final Product. Starting today, I will look into learning C++ to use for controlling circuits and as part of my SMART goals, I will watch one or two lectures per week (or chapters in a textbook) and will use the content to ask questions/discuss with Mr. Arellano. Besides short-term goals and technical knowledge, I hope to apply this foundation to my final product. Mr. Arellano suggested using C++ to program a function with circuit boards, which I could acquire through companies that may be willing to donate extra products. Along the process, he suggested that I keep track of my budget and schedule with an earned value management system, which could demonstrate my organization throughout the development of my final product. The main purpose behind my final product should be focused on finding a unique way to use circuit boards, and not just learn about them.

In terms of Original Work, Mr. Arellano is on board with my oscilloscope lab! I'm still finding more sources to analyze (such as an outlet, microphone, and phone) and looking for more potential applications. I am excited to see what my mentorship has to offer, and what I can gain from these short- and long-term goals. However, even with 1st semester over, I must remember to stay on top of homework and self-studying in order to receive the best results.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


SMART Goals are a thorough and specific plan of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals:

Weekly Report #15- Mentorship and Original Work

Prior to winter break, I received some good news- I now have a mentor, Mr. Arellano! I actually found out during our Midwest trip to Chicago, which was very exciting and memorable. I will likely begin mentor visits this upcoming week and discuss plans for original work and final product. One of my goals is also to tour the Raytheon plant in McKinney (if the forms get approved soon enough) to get a glimpse of industry and production. On the note of original work, I have started some experimentation with my dad's oscilloscope and have recorded a graph using my finger as the signal source. This produced a surprising result as I did not expect much from a finger, so I will look into the reasons for the graph's signal in more depth, and research into potential applications of the instrument. In terms of final product however, I do not yet have an idea in mind, as the field of electrical engineering provides a vast number of opportunities and applications. I do plan to incorporate something interactive or business-related, as I hope to study in engineering and business in college.

Although second semester has practically started, I (thankfully) have not yet been a victim of "senioritis." I still feel the necessity to keep up good grades and learn material well, as AP tests will come soon and ISM has a lot to offer. I really hope to use as much of ISM as I can, since college apps and orchestra rehearsals are over. I will do my best to keep up with my SMART goals!