Aja Capel
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I am a different thinker. I think out of the box. I problem-solve out of the box. I try to destroy the box.

My MISSION:

to EXCITE, Engage, & empower minority youth, especially girls, to see themselves in STEM BY providing STEM exposure events, camps & classes

my VISION:

To transform the face of STEM by creating a world where every youth can see themselves in STEM and society can see the STEM potential in every youth

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About Me —

My Education

I started 9th grade at age 12 at Urbana High School, Urbana, IL, completing my first two years ranking in the top 5% of my class. I am a different thinker with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADHD, CAPD, and visual disturbances. After losing my advocacy team of principal Stark and counselor Solodky, my learning differences and learning style became a mismatch for the teaching and assessment styles of the teachers at UHS. Therefore, due to the Illinois acceleration law, I started a hybrid program in my junior year with the goal being to satisfy UHS graduation requirements and obtain my diploma. I attend UHS part-time and take online classes through ASU Prep Digital Academy, an innovative online high school that gives students an accelerated path toward university admission. They enabled me to enroll in ASU as a college student and take US History from a civil rights perspective and Introductory Chemistry with lab. In my senior year I will be participating in the prestigious UHS Executive Internship Program. My interest is in engineering design. My desire is to major in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics. Ultimately, I would like to attend veterinary school. I would like to combine my engineering and veterinary degrees to use technology to make major impacts on animal medicine and science. I have interests in orthotics & prosthetics, instrumentation, conservation, and creating better zoos.

 
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About ME —

My Story

I have always been precocious. Nothing in my house was safe when I was around. I would take everything apart from a young age. My parents enrolled me in robotics at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum at age 4, so I would take other people’s stuff apart. It worked. I have been taking things apart and building things, especially robots, for eleven years now. I exhausted every learning opportunity that was available in my community. I traveled to the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University and the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education in pursuit of robotics. I learned computer programming online and started four robotics teams. I am the Founder and President of FTC Team #10146 Invader Bots. I also serve as the lead builder and wiring expert, as well as the leader of outreach and networking. I have amassed 250+ volunteer hours as Lead Robotics Instructor at the same Orpheum Children’s Museum where I first began. I see myself as the CEO of my own technology company someday. I believe immersion and instruction in computing and technology should start in kindergarten and be a core subject with national standards. A founding principle of my organization is my belief that to narrow the STEM gap minority students must see and engage with STEM professionals who look like them.

 

Leadership

 
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TRAINING

  • SWENext Design Lab, Bias Literacy & Role Model Training, St. Louis, MO

  • “Dare to Lead: 4-H Teen Leadership Conference, Decatur, IL

  • 4-H National Youth Maker Summit, National 4-H Conference, Chevy Chase, MD

  • Lead Like Lincoln Leadership Program, Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL


POSITIONS

  • Founder & CEO, See Me in STEM

  • Board Member, 4-H In Space

  • 4-H Google Teen Computer Science Program Leader

  • Appointed, IL 4-H State Robotics Game Design Committee

  • Student Organizer & Lead Drone Instructor, IL 4-H State Robotics Competition

  • Lead Robotics Instructor, Orpheum Children’s Science museum, Champaign, IL

  • Founder, President, Lead Builder, Leader of Outreach/Networking, INVADER BOTS FTC TEAM #10146

  • IL 4-H STEM Ambassador

  • Varsity Girls Golf Team Captain, Urbana High School, Urbana, IL

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Grants & Initiatives

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4-H Google National Youth Science Day (Month) Code Your World Initiative 

I provided 1 hour exposure events teaching Animate-A-Name using scratch programming. I held 14 events at 5 different venues, creating 14 coding clubs. I impacted 138 persons including teaching 14 adult mentors.  Of the 138 persons, 99% were minorities, grades second to tenth, and 49% were girls. I now have partnerships with 8 different community organizations. I am working on creating STEM programming for each of them.  

I am the 2019 National Youth Science Day National Winner for greatest impact and received $1,000 for my organization.

 
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NCWIT Aspire IT $3,300 Grant

I created computer programming curriculum using Scratch for the spheros platform. I taught 3 classes for 48 girls providing a total of 576 program hours.

I am working with Keith Jacobs Jr. of IL 4-H to publish my curriculum.

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Youth Service America/Disney be inspired $500 Grant

D.R. One was a 2 day drone building STEM exposure event, created in collaboration with Keith Jacobs Jr. and Illinois 4-H to provide hands on learning and guided exploration for under-represented minority youth to help bridge the STEM gap. I impacted 14 lives providing a total of 168 program hours. 

 
 

Honors & Awards

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 Internships

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IL 4-H Extension, Champaign, IL

working with Keith Jacobs Jr, STEM Specialist, to design and publish drone and robotics curriculum, outreach development, and through a Google grant build the Inmoov, the first open source 3D printed life size robot

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IL State 4-H Youth Development

working with Alvarez Dixon to create a college preparedness and STEM video series; assisting with the development of Tech Quest, an interactive problem solving journey of 5 STEM pursuits

Employment

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STEM Consultant

I observe the kids, determine their STEM interests, develop curriculum, identify materials needed and train the volunteers to create a sustainable STEM program all their own.

 MEDIA

 

Other Interests

 
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Training for my pilots license

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2nd degree black belt Taekwondo —I hold 31 IL State Championship Titles with 4-4th place world finishes

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professional commercial & print model represented by The rock agency, Chicago, IL

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Member, Girls Who Code & SWENEXT

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Golf & Archery

References

  • Keith Jacobs Jr., IL State 4-H STEM Extension Specialist

  • Alvarez Dixon, Extension Specialist - IL 4-H Youth Development

  • Alex Dour, Education Coordinator, Orpheum children’s Science Museum, Champaign, IL

  • Shawn Mathew, FTC Invader Bots Coach & Caterpillar Engineer

  • Matthew Stark, Principal, Urbana High School, 2016-2018

  • Marc Solodky, Guidance Counselor, Urbana High School, 2016-2018

  • Kevin Floress, Guidance Counselor, Urbana High School, 2018-2019

  • Brittany Ward, Guidance Counselor, Urbana High School, 2019-current

  • Kim Summers, English Teacher, Urbana High School

  • Becky Quigley, Calculus Teacher, ASU Prep Digital Academy

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