Coding with Google, Berkeley 10k, Dead Zones, and Touch-Tone Telephones
Letter? I Hardly Know Her! - December 2022
Welcome, WELCOME to Letter? I Hardly Know Her! I’m Apoorva (the her in question), a 17 y/o researcher, artist, writer, keynote speaker, and advocate for youth and gender minorities in STEAM. This newsletter is a means for me to keep track of my personal & professional growth, and to share all the good stuff I’m working on! First-timers: it’s great to meet you, I’m so glad you’re here! For my regular hardly-knowers, here’s your promised, extra special greeting: welcome you wonderful cup of hot chocolate—seeing you here makes my winter so much better.
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As a heads up, I publish newsletters on each MONTH/MONTH, i.e. 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, … , 12/12. Is it the most efficient system? Frankly, no. But is it the most funky fresh? Absolutely it is.
Happy Holidays, Hardly-Knowers! I hope you’re finishing the year on a good note and that you and your loved ones are staying safe and happy. Let’s get into the last month!
GLAM Coding Event with Google
For some context, I am the Chief STEAM Advisor and global ambassador of the Girls Leadership Academy Meetup (GLAM), an organization that brings women leaders together to inspire girls to find their voice and take on leadership positions. I’ve been a part of GLAM for 4 years now, and so far I’ve mentored 600+ girls aged 8-12 from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Last week, I co-hosted the GLAM Coding Event with Google! For our two-hour event, we had girls aged 8-14 joining us from England, Kenya, and the USA, representing 75 cities! We heard from keynote speaker Ruth Seltzer, the Engineering Director of Google Flights, who shared her inspiring journey as an engineer and leader. Ruth taught us how to think about learning by troubleshooting and to do what you love no matter what people say.
We then talked about the importance of coding and jumped right into coding a maze game using Scratch, led by our amazing Google coding volunteers. The girls took on the challenge with infectious enthusiasm and energy, and even added their own spin to the game by adding a timer!
An enormous thank you to all the volunteers from Google who took the time to share their valuable insights and expertise on a Saturday morning! And, as always, I’m so thankful for Team GLAM’s hard work to make this event happen. I can’t wait for our next events! 2023, here we come.
Berkeley 10k Race
My second race! I ran the Berkeley 10k on November 13, and it was so much fun. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I got to spend the weekend with my sister (who goes to Berkeley).
Compared to my first 10k race last month, I felt much stronger and more confident running, and got to take in the sights and really enjoy the run. It’s really cool to be able to feel my progress, and I can’t wait for my half-marathon in February. (The plan is to run it on my 18th birthday to start adulthood on an exciting note!)
GLAM Virtual with Cisco
I also co-hosted Day 1 of the GLAM Virtual Event with Cisco in November! Our keynote speakers had some fantastic presentations on leadership, strategy, teamwork, and navigating failure. Huge thank you to all the Cisco leaders and coding volunteers who lent their valuable time to us and for sponsoring the event!
I did an interview with Eddie Renz and Melissa Poliseno at iTeach, and it was an absolute joy. We talked about the importance of fostering creativity, inspirational teachers/mentors, individualization in education, storytelling in STEM, and more.
You can watch it here!
Gems in STEM: Just Keep Swimming…in Deadly Conditions
Would you rather: stay in the same place for eternity or die of suffocation? Yikes, I don’t like either choice (and I’m also not a fan of morbid “Would You Rather” questions), but the fish in our oceans and coastal waters don’t get a choice. In dead zones, i.e., areas in water with low-oxygen levels, aquatic life faces near impossible living conditions. Because of human activities like inefficient agricultural practices, these zones are continuously expanding and aquatic ecosystems are suffering the consequences. But, don’t despair! We can do something about it.
In this article, we’ll dive head-first into how we can leverage the power of machine learning and remote sensing to monitor dead zones and protect our aquatic ecosystems. Read on below!
!! ARTWORK ALERT !!
I’ve started a new piece! This one has been pretty difficult so far because I haven't ever really painted a similar portrait subject, but I’m having fun with the colors. It's a work in progress!
Signal Processing for Touch-Tone Telephones
I’m currently taking EE 112: Intro to Signal Processing at San Jose State, and it is a fantastic course. There is such interesting math embedded and I got to learn about the world of deconstructing and analyzing signals, something I hadn’t really thought too hard about before.
For the final project of the semester, I coded functions that generate and decode DTMF signals used in touch-tone dialing in telephones. Basically, when you dial a phone number on a touch-tone telephone, the telephone generates a dual tone multifrequency (DTMF). The sound that you hear is actually the sum of two sinusoidal signals at different frequencies that are used to transmit information. We can then use bandpass FIR filters to extract the information encoded in the waveforms. In this project, I designed and implemented bandpass FIR filters in MATLAB (a programming language/computing environment) to do the decoding automatically. It was pretty cool to see it in action!
Here’s a beautiful spectrogram that illustrates the presence of dual tones!
The Fun, the Fresh, & the Funky
I’ve been reading a lot more this month, and it is very fun, fresh, and funky. I recently finished Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, and it was just beautiful. I had never seen my experience as an Indian-American reflected so honestly in a book before, I felt like scenes of my own life were written in it. Lahiri weaves together a true family portrait, and I highly recommend reading it if you can!
I’m currently reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and John Derbyshire’s Prime Obsession. As an artist, I’m really enjoying The Picture of Dorian Gray so far (I just started), because I can absolutely relate to its perspectives on making art and how it feels to put so much of yourself in your work. Prime Obsession is so much fun, I love Derbyshire’s playful and informative writing, and it’s just a wonderful discussion of the beauty of primes and number theory.
I also celebrated Thanksgiving with a big potluck with family and friends! My sister and I made some turkey strawberries for fun, which was actually a bit harder that we thought it would be.
Here’s the pumpkin pie we baked too!
I also sprained my foot on Thanksgiving, whoops. But, I’ve been resting it and not running these last few weeks, so hopefully I’m back in commission now.
Last week, our family travelled to Texas and Oklahoma to visit our cousins for the holidays!
We also met a very cute cat on a random street in Oklahoma. <3
This weekend, I’ll be celebrating my sister’s graduation from Berkeley!
Coming up next on Keeping Up With (K)Apoorva…
I’m so excited to kick off 2023 with my first 15k race in San Francisco! (I also love hot chocolate, so it’s a win-win.)
Creating a new coding curriculum for GLAM 2023
Now that we have wrapped all our GLAM 2022 events, it’s time for us to create a whole new exciting and interactive coding curriculum for our 2023 events!
Gems in STEM
As always, there will be more articles published for my column on Medium, so feel free to follow me on Medium to stay updated!
Interview with NOVA
I recently did an interview with NOVA about my journey with math and abacus, so stay tuned for when it releases.
Working on project about monitoring dead zones with machine learning
I’m currently working on coding a fully convolutional network for semantic segmentation of aerial images to gain a deeper understanding on how to use machine learning to monitor dead zones and fertilizer runoff. I’m really excited to see where it goes, it’s been a huge learning experience so far.
My (other) cousins are visiting us here in the Bay Area for the winter holidays! I’m excited to celebrate the New Year and relax with family and friends after finals and college applications are done.
A Quarter for Your Quote?
Here’s our quote for this month!
"It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol."
I think this quote has been a wonderful reminder to myself to always make time to slow down and relax, and it’s a great way to prevent burnout. So, for the holidays, make sure to take a break to recharge and do fun things with the people you love!
That’s it from me, Hardly-Knowers. Thank you for sticking around and for being here with me in 2022—I wish you a happy, happy new year! See you in 2023.
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