First Name

Aja

Last Name

C.

Bio

Aja is a 15 year old high school junior. She has always been precocious. Nothing in her house was safe when she was around. She would take everything apart from a young age. Her parents enrolled her in robotics at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum at age 4 so she would take other people’s stuff apart. It worked. She has been taking things apart and building things, especially robots, for eleven years now. She is a dyslexic, dysgraphic, ADHD, CAPD different thinker and out of the box problem solver. She has participated in a myriad of STEM classes and courses. She has started 4 robotics teams. She is the Founder and President of FTC Team #10146 Invader Bots. She serves as the lead builder, wiring expert, as well as the leader of outreach and networking. She has amassed 250+ hours as Lead Robotics Instructor at the same Orpheum Children’s Science Museum where she first began. She participates in 2 4-H high school internships, one for youth development and the other for STEM curriculum and outreach development. In 2018 she won a $500 Disney Be Inspired grant. She partnered with Keith Jacobs Jr. of Illinois 4-H to put on a 2-day drone building workshop. She impacted 14 African American lives providing 168 hours of hands on STEM experience. She then won a $3300 Aspire IT grant to put on 2 computer programming courses for 48 minority girls providing 576 program hours. She saw the power of visibility and exposure. She decided to centralize her efforts by creating her own organization, See Me in STEM. Her mission is to be visible and provide exposure, access and STEM opportunities to under-represented youth. This past October she participated as a teen leader in the 4-H Google National Youth Science Day (Month) Code Your World Initiative to provide 1 hour exposure events teaching Animate-A-Name using scratch programming. She held 14 events at 5 different venues, creating 14 coding clubs. She impacted 138 persons including teaching 14 adult mentors. Of the 138 persons, 99% were minorities, grades second to tenth, and 49% were girls. She now has partnerships with 8 different community organizations. She is working on creating STEM programming for each of them. She has been asked to consider a partnership to bring her outreach to girls in Africa. Aja plans to attend a 4 year university majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics. She sees herself as CEO of her own technology company someday. She plans to incorporate her organization into a nonprofit. She believes instruction in computing and technology should begin in kindergarten and be a core subject with national standards. She believes in order to narrow the STEM gap minority students must see and engage with STEM professionals who look like them. She believes you cannot be what you do not see. This was a founding principle of her organization, See Me in STEM. For more information please visit seemeinstem.org.