Finally, time for the last In-Depth progress post! (I shouldn’t be too excited, as In-Depth night is fast approaching ?) In this post, I will mostly outline what I plan to have in my learning centre on the “Big Day”.
I plan to have several boards/mindmaps/separate displays, to fit the main categories that I’ve spread my project out to. The first one would contain key terms related to investing spread out like a mind map. The goal of this is to have people look at it and get a general sense of what is going to be talked about, or for them to learn some of the most important words and definitions. It will look like this in my mind.
The next board will have some degree of interactivity, I hope. What I am thinking right now would be to have a list of articles on the table, printed out, and ask what each person would do in this scenario. If I can, I will have an iPad with current holdings (imaginary just to fit the exercise), and stock trend charts until the day the news report came out. The reports will be of something positive or negative, and people would need to respond by buying more, selling or shorting, or holding and doing nothing. At some point, I will introduce how different mainstream investment ideas will respond to the news, and “predict” how the stock will go. It is an exercise to practice critical thinking and to learn some investment strategies and market psychology. Below is the general outline.
In the last part, there will be a “self-serve” information section with different types of ways to invest. I am thinking of having three boxes labelled with high risk, medium risk and low risk that contains paper slips inside. The idea is to have people reach into the box that they are comfortable with and pull out a method that they can invest. One challenge with this method is that in some boxes, there won’t be a lot of paper slips, so it would feel empty when people do the draw.
I am still trying to think of new ideas or to perfect my current ones. Suggestions welcomed!
For my progress so far, I am behind schedule, as I haven’t started frequently looking at finance new and actually buying things. I should be trading at least five times a week, and right now it is more like two. I will try to redesign my schedule by Thursday night, and hopefully, I can get on track. By the way, I have finished all of the Khan Academy videos on Stock and Bonds, but I will still keep watching about mortgages, banks and inflation.
orMy mentor is not currently active in the investment field, besides from a couple of small exchanges. He has not many resources for me besides from books that are very technical, but his conversations with me are the best kind of learning for developing critical and creative thinking. We would talk about things in the news such as Google not reporting their Q4 earnings or Apple announcing that they will start to make MacBook chips. These conversations serve to reinforce what I had learnt, and sometimes my mentor will explain the whole thing over to me again. I think that our conversations together are the best way to develop actual “financial” thinking. This serves to bring my knowledge about textual thing to life. The face to face interaction is amazing for not just reinforcing knowledge, but gaining new ones in a more personal setting.
The process of our meeting usually starts with me asking questions about anything that I had learnt. I would share what I did and some confusing things. This part isn’t very long, as I try to get my questions answered online beforehand. After this, we have time to discuss things and he will mention some things that he thinks is interesting or worth mentioning. I will sometimes start the conversation, but it will always go off-topic. It is funny that way, but also a reminder that we think differently and that my mentor has more life experiences. The “off-topics” are often educational though, as they are almost always about philosophy, politics or religion. I think that as mentor and mentee we are developing our relationship to understand each other more. We may still be uncomfortable with things (he is an introvert mostly), but we respect each other. This is what I think is the most important.
What I have learnt about my mentor is that he can talk for a very long time when he finds something that he is interested about, but otherwise he is not someone who will always have something to say. Sometimes it is my questions that “excites” him and sometimes he would just have an idea flash across his head that he wanted to mention. He knows a lot about Chinese markets, where he had worked and studied, but he kept up in reading on the American and Canadian markets too. I think that he is learning that I am usually independent, but would sometimes forget to do the scheduled work. He has his ways of dealing with it though since he will just tell me that I have extra homework for the next meeting.
At this time in my mentoring relationship, I am at the end of the negotiating stage with my mentor according to Zachary’s model of mentorship. The reason that negotiation took a very long time was because meeting and actually discussing the details of our expectations and goals turned out to be hard. Due to our shifting schedules, we often had to make amendments to our agreements. I had troubles at the beginning regarding the role of my mentor in this project, specifically how he can support me and what he should teach me. This unclearness leads to a lack of goals and criteria for success. While I got more into gears as I gained knowledge about my topic, I have a better idea of how exactly my mentor can support me in the process of this project.
Our mentor meetings now are actually quite productive now. I would have some questions that he can answer, and he would then talk about specific things that he wants me to think about or just life experiences that shows something about the stock markets. The first part would take around 30 minutes, and depending on how much my mentor wants to talk about, we could be together for up to 2 hours. The meetings are turning out to be great.
The only thing that I would like to happen would be to establish a closer relationship with my mentor. Right now, we are in a kind of teacher-student relationship. I sometimes feel that I am troubling my mentor everytime I needed him for something. To build friendship, I need to gain mutual respect in the first place. This respect is not one of being polite, but more of respect for other’s abilities and ideas. What I will have to do will be to make the meetings not just a learning experience for me, but my mentor as well through teaching a mind without pre-assumptions. The simplest thing to do right now is to get ready for each meeting, to make sure that I am prepared with questions and to be attentive and focused during my meetings.
For a progress update, I am currently still watching Khan Academy videos. I will finish in around 2-3 weeks.
This week’s focus for our mentor meeting is context, and to me, it means asking the questions: what is the context of my meetings, why is there this context, how is it significant, and how does it impact the mentoring relationship. These are hard series of questions to find out, as I noticed how beyond the initial context of the place and time, there is the mindset of my mentor or me, which are also contexts in our conversation, in addition to what we are doing.
Zachary (2000) points out that to overcome the influences of the multiple contextual layers that affect an individual simultaneously, it is wise to set ground rules and processes which work in specific context. To answer the questions above, I made sure that both my mentor and I know the “terms and conditions” of our time together. We made sure we know how we will communicate with one another first, which is through email, and then an in-person meeting. The usual meeting location will either be at my house, his house or the library, which I will detail in my emails. We would meet at least twice a month, and by the end of our time together we would have accomplished the goals of this project. This section of our meeting went very well, and we were able to set clear goals for the next few meetings.
One different thing about this year’s In-Depth that I’ve noticed is that I have much better communication with my mentor. We could communicate well with each other in our meetings because we respected each other and knew each other well. This enabled us to listen, think and respond in an effective fashion. We had a good relationship, which means that we are at ease with each other when sitting together, and we can experiment with ideas without fear. All of this helped us communicate clearly and pleasantly.
There are still some things that can be improved in the mentoring sessions. It could be nice if we could:
have time to talk a little bit more about ourselves so we can understand each other better.
have smaller informal discussions during the week to exchange information.
eliminate distractions and focus for the hour on the most important things.
To accomplish these goals, I plan to set up an extra meeting (depending on my mentor’s availability) this week sometime to do a casual cafe talk about our life experiences and goals. If he is not available, an online chat would also be great. I am going to try to revive my WeChat account, the main social media messaging account that my mentor uses. It is hard because WeChat is not on the computer, and I don’t have a phone accessible at many times. I will just set a routine of writing down some casual questions and getting my phone to ask once in a while. I realized since last year that an agenda, or just simply a list of questions/goals for the meeting works very well to keep me and my mentor on track since we are aware of the content and time to go.
As for my progress this week, I am still doing backgrounders, watching Khan Academy videos on stock and bonds and reading elementary Investopedia articles, which are extremely detailed and helpful (they are actually meant for university finance students and adults). I didn’t take many notes, which I guess I should do. I may just go over the videos and copy the key term though.
As the In-depth project progress, we are now starting to meet with our mentors and receive guidance from them regarding our goals and procedures. Ms. Mulder has asked us to comment on the following questions for this post:
How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
What were those experiences like for your mentor?
What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
My mentor gained his experience in the investment field through personal interest, jobs, and education. He received teaching in university that helped him find a job as a broker, initially. He told me that after switching a few jobs and having many mentors in between, he is now an investment counsellor and can finally start helping others on the journey that he went through. He is a firm believer of the “guide and relate” model of mentoring relationships when I mentioned it to him, and he commented that the best teachers he had didn’t just pour out information to him, but created an environment where he can learn on his own, supporting him and guiding him to implement his actions. Teaching did provide him with a lot of professional knowledge, but the most important ones came from teachers, who like mentors, took the time to learn about him and personally encourage and support him. The conversations between us are almost just an exemplary model of how having a mentor one on one can help me digest information. I had read Ms. Mulder’s blog post about mentorship, but it is through this conversation that I am able to develop my own interpretations of it and have someone experienced confirm or reject it. My mentor is far from perfect, but I learned to be understanding of other people’s ideas, especially those who have no previous experience and is not restricted by the standardized conventions. Truly, mentoring is not about how we influence others, but how we help them on their journey to find their own version of the truth they are seeking.
It is finally time for another In-Depth project! The project is one of my favorite TALONS events, and I have thought long and hard about what I want to learn about. After some comparisons and evaluations, I got down to investing in securities, funds, etc.
The reason that I decided to learn about investing is partially due to the eminent person project I completed earlier in the year. Even when I was younger, still in elementary school, my parents exposed me to some books that humorously talks about the importance of growing money. The vivid metaphors intrigued me and planted a seed inside. All of that helped me make my decision for this year’s project.
There are two possible mentors that can support me in my learning. One has already agreed orally and is experienced doing trading (he worked at a stock exchange). The other person manages my family’s stocks and is very professional, with many years of outstanding record. I might be able to Skype her since she is in China, but if not she can give me some pointers if I email her.
“In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” – Robert Arnott
First of all, for my update on learning, check out my personal blogging site that has just been completely rebuilt (it may look empty).
De Bono time:
Here is a list of concepts that my mentor and I talked about last meeting:
logic of a computer
profit vs. everything else
Coincidently enough, during our conversation, which went really off-topic (shhh), we talked and discussed a lot
about the United Airline incident that happened recently. When I went back to listen to our conversation, I realized that it was the part during our talk in which we brought up the most alternatives! To start, my mentor suggested for us to look at this incident from another perspective.
The passenger that was violently dragged off was actually a terrorist under disguise. The FBI have been tracking him for days, but never found an opportunity to take him down without alerting the media or the public. So they told the flight attendant to basically pick this passenger when they are doing the draw. This way, they can get the job done, and the public or foreign agencies will never know of the secrets they can extract.
Another explanation for the event doesn’t necessarily praise United, but it claims its innocence:
These explanations for the event look at it from another perspective, and offer an alternative way of thinking about the event.
Anyways, back to my actual topic of alternatives, I had a lot of alternatives when considering my car design:
how will it work? (line following? obstacle avoiding? real time control? )
how should I write and organize the code?
using a lot of if statements?
finding a way of listing input that will direct me to a certain output?
use “def” makes the code more readable than not using it, but it is more work
comment makes the code more readable by humans and make me remember what everything does, but is a lot of work as well
if I don’t have time, I could just do one mode (line following + one ultrasonic)
if the motors don’t work well going at 70% power, I can just not do slower speeds
maybe create two different tracks for two different modes, if I am going to have that
Huff, spring break just passed and I haven’t even written this in advance… I need to stop procrastinating…
But anyways, I think it is week 11, but not too positive, and spring break sure is a time to do stuff. I posted two posts on my “diary” website, but yet again, my crappy server broke down and the website is not accessible. So I will just post some of the pictures I posted there here. These are for V1 of my car, built on Mar. 15, 17. If you are on a mobile device like the iPad, click on the images to view the caption (they’re pretty important). If you’re on PC, I don’t know if captions show, but there are captions on most of the photos.
So, after that, I did a few upgrades, fixed the motor that didn’t really work, and plugged all the Input Outputs! I realized that the Pi can never power the motor, on its own, to make it work as normal. So I basically added another power supply to the motors. This means I will have two battery packs on my car, one for Pi, one for the motors. This is V2.0.
In my meeting with my mentor, I started writing code the car. The first step is to set up the initial initialization, like assigning output to the motor’s pins (24-27). Then, I have to figure out a logic for the car. This includes a exclusive list of the things it will perform under one of the many conditions. So much work for me in the coming weeks…
De Bono Time:
The six hat conversation:
First, I would like to say that most of the time we are talking, we are just confirming our thoughts or proposing a solution that may well be the only one suitable, and we are only talking like 30% of the time in the 2 hours, so I will try to skip over some mumble jumble. OH, and also our conversation is in Chinese, so it is hard for me to translate it into English word for word. I will just say the overall message. Legend on bottom.
Me: Telling my mentor the different things I’ve added since he last saw photos of it. (1.0 to 2.0).
Also tell him of my logic diagram I am working on. Also tell him of my goal for the night, which is to find out if my diagram works, my car’s design works, my motors function, and some python coding if we have time.
Mentor(and me, butmostly him): Confirm what I said, suggest a new method of figuring out what the logic of the car is. Demonstrates the method and work out the car’s reactions to different input values when it is first starting. (put down on the ground and motors are 0) Everyone agrees that this method is a lot better to follow when writing a code. Ask me to list what the car should do in each situation (ex. right IR sensor detects black, nothing else). Discuss about the type of line & and thickness for IR sensor.
20 min. later.
Me: Discuss how to control the motors, and testing a test code to see if motors function.
test code didn’t work,
Mentor: tells me why code won’t work. Deletes, or comments out most of code that didn’t work.
looking up pwm (pulse width modulation or something, it makes the motors spin slower)
Mentor: (don’t know python, but know the usual syntax and logic of the language) Copies a LED code over to the motor, changing some values. It is meant to fade an LED back and forth. He thinks that it should work, because they are both outputs, and there really isn’t much difference between them.
didn’t work at first, but when the work percentage/duty cycle is higher (spin faster) it works. We tested that it can start moving at around 65% when it was stationary through a lot of trials.
50 min. later.
Mentor: Suggest a new code that don’t fade out, and allow us to call it up pretty quickly using the “def” function. We also discovered that it allows us to change the variables pretty quickly (time and duty cycle). Also suggests that I put comments on my code so I can remember what they do later.
Me: It also makes your code easier to read to other people so they can know what you are doing.
Me:commenting code is boring, basically you just label the code, but I feel like I will probably forget what this line means in like two days, so I should probably still label it.
me labeling code for 20 min.
Some other little things we discussed that I won’t document here, and our meeting is finished.
First of all, here are some updates on the overall progress of my project. I have basically finished all the learning portions of in-depth, and I will move on to constructing my final project. This doesn’t mean that I’m done learning, it means that I will progress from reading 80% of the time to reading 20% of the time. My final project has a lot of things where it could go wrong, and there are a lot of room for improvements and upgrades. So, I think from now on I will learn through doing.
My progress report is, or was, on my personal blog, but the server crashed while I was writing the report and my site, along with several of my dad’s sites went down. (I must have done something wrong, the WordPress sites could no longer be accessed) I have a copied-and-pasted version here, but all the images are gone. Sorry…
First of all, my mentor had a different idea about the state of the connection when a capacitor is charging and when it is fully charged. From my readings, I thought that while charging, a capacitor allow the flow of current, and when it is done charging, it will block all current, and it will “open” the circuit. (no current could pass through) Through listening, I saw a different perspective and saw that his reasoning are valid, while my perception of what happened could explain the results of an example circuit, his way of seeing things is more valid. In the end, we are both wrong, and we had a laugh about it. It was after my mentor tried to explain to me his views for 20 minutes, using diagrams and everything. He kept using words that I haven’t read about before, and he is sometimes saying things based on the assumption that I know some things, which I may or may not know. For example, the term “short-circuit” appeared in my readings once (I can’t memorize things that well, and it didn’t come to me), and he kept saying that, resulting in me not understanding the whole phrase he is saying. I tried to wait patiently, because I know everything will be written on my face, and asked a ton of clarifying questions. Finally, I got what he was saying, but we decided to search it up anyways. Turns out we’re both wrong! I also got some interesting facts by paying attention to the matters of interest that arose. For example, since some light bulbs use AC, which has voltage that goes up and down, like a wave, those light bulbs are actually flashing. We can’t see they are flashing because the AC frequency is very short. In the US I think it is 60 times per second. Finally, by paying attention to his use of words, like open circuits or using t0 to t1 to describe an event, I can communicate more professionally with others, and also make my words easier to understand for an experienced person.
How to ask questions:
Fishing questions and shooting questions, they are kind of like the surface/shallow and deep questions we learn in middle school. A shooting question has two results, you miss, or you hit the shot. It is very straight forward. A fishing question is like fishing, you throw in a bait, knowing that it will attract a range of fish (or questions), but you won’t know which fish you will catch, or whether you will even catch one. We ask these questions and differentiate between which question to ask all the time. As de Bono observed, we ask shooting questions when we suspect the answer is no, and when we have an idea what we are asking. If we have no clue of the answer, we ask a fishing question.
Just like de Bono observed, we ask for clarification and explanation more than anything else in our conversations. This is very true for my mentor and me, as I often need him to explain something in plainer English. I also asked a lot of questions when the ultrasonic sensor that we finished last time didn’t work this time, after being transported to a different place. I asked for the possibility of some things going wrong to try to cover all the possibilities (shooting questions), like the connection of resistors, the order of the resistors in the voltage divider, whether the GPIO pins we are connecting to are malfunctioning, etc. We changed the GPIO, the variable names in the code, downloaded a version of the code online that people made, and non of that worked. Finally, we realized that it was supposed to be connected to 5v, instead of 3.3v. This part is when I asked a multiple choices question, of which scenario have the greatest possibility of happening, and therefore which one we should check first. I think using the multiple choice question is great because it lets us examine all the options before making a decision.
I asked for an explanation of the meaning of “short circuit”, which I believed to be a circuit without resistors. But that
description didn’t fit in with the context that my mentor was talking about. He explained, using a diagram, that it means, basically, that there is little to no resistance between the two poles. It also means that, like in the diagram below, all points in the red line have a V of 0. That is because they are all connected to ground, and they cannot have a voltage, but suddenly drop to a 0 when it reaches ground, for no reason. Sorry if that makes no sense.
I hope you are still staying with me after 1000 words, but luckily, or not, this is the end.
Believe it or not, three weeks have passed since we did our last blog post! During these three weeks, what I found is that schedules are hard to follow. Everything going on, like homework and events that just pops up, seem to make me completely forget about my schedule. I had a meeting with my mentor last week, and it is when he asked me about what I did in the period between our meetings that I realized: I haven’t done a lot. Because of a miscommunication between my dad and I (I thought he said to keep a log), I started to record all my significant progress on a random website that I made with WordPress in the summer, so now you can go on there to see some of my progress, and I won’t document my progress in these posts anymore. (If that’s inconvenient Ms.Mulder just comment on it) The exact link is here, to my posts, but you can also type in tony.szmba.com or tonysun.win to go to the home page. (the .win one has some weird bugs)
For our journey to a beautiful mind, which we are currently trying to be interesting and know how to respond, here are my reports:
How to be interesting
Using the phrase “Now that’s interesting” is like the easiest thing to do so far. My mentor would often bring up points that I have never heard or thought of before. Like when we were talking about analog (-∞-∞) and digital (1 or 0) and resisters in circuits, my mentor pointed out (literally pointed) that those dimming light switches on my wall have a resister that can change in their resistance. So when I turn the light brighter, the dial makes the resistance smaller and when I turn the light dimmer, the dial will make the resistance bigger so there will be less voltage, etc. and there will be less light. I never thought of that before, so I said “The Phrase” and was then able to make other connections in using the resistor. I also tried to find interesting points in a lot of things, so basically everything that he said which I did not know, I commented and made connections to other things. Because I didn’t record my conversation, I can’t exactly tell you what I used “what ifs” for, but I remember that once when I asked about what would happen if a LED has received too high a voltage and whether stuff will catch on fire if there is more electricity than it is designed for.
How to respond:
Ah, asking for clarification is me every minute. For my conversation with my mentor, basically when I ask a question, my mentor would respond, and before he finishes, I would be bursting with another question. He would answer me again, but I would have another question by the time he finishes. This is also something I need to improve on, since I will have a question while my mentor is speaking, and as a result, I usually lose track of what he has to say, and sometimes I would even interrupt. I did supported some of the points that my mentor made and improved some of his points, but that is because I was searching on the internet the same time he is and I found a better way to assemble the ultrasonic sensor than the method he found. I guess that still counts as responding.
Anyways, that is all I have to say for now, it is getting late and I am really tired, probably because I got my shots today. So this is it for now…
PS: don’t forget to check my progress on tonysun.win