Aja Capel

See Me in STEM.

I am a different thinker. I think out of the box. I problem solve out of the box. Frankly, I try to destroy the box.

My Mission is to be visible and to provide ACCESS, EXPOSURE, and STEM opportunities to underrepresented 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 using the Cambridge Curriculum.

Through them, I was able to accelerate even more and take 12th grade English and pre-calculus. They also enabled me to enroll in ASU as a college student and take US History from a civil rights perspective and Introductory Chemistry with lab. That is all in my junior year. In my senior year I will continue taking college classes in English Composition, Physics with lab and Calculus for Engineers while participating in the prestigious UHS Executive Internship Program. I will receive high school credit for all of my ASU classes and walk the stage to receive my diploma in May 2020, at age 16. I will start college at age 16 with up to 19 transfer credits. 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+ 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

  • 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. 

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karma for carA foundation grant semifinalist

I wrote a grant to provide hands on STEM activities for under-represented youth.

 
 

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

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