Founder, The STEAM Connection
Career & Education - selected:
- Undergraduate, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering
- Founder, STEAM Connection
Awards & Recognitions - selected: - 2020 Girls Changing the World, PEOPLE - 2020 Women of Worth, L’Oreal Paris - 2020 Youth Environmental Activist, Bower Youth Awards - 2020 24 Under 24 Leaders & Innovators in STEAM & Space, The Mars Generation - 2019 Youth Volunteer of the Year Award
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am an Ojibwe teen entrepreneur, author, educator, and inventor who helps increase STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) educational accessibility, affordability, and diversity. I do this through an affordable robotics kit that I invented, diverse children's books that I authored, and community classes that I frequently teach. I love technology and robotics and use it as a way to help teach children skills that will help them pursue their best futures. This has led me to mentor 35 youth robotics teams, become an award-winning volunteer, and speak about my work in front of thousands. I am also a student pursuing both Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. My aim is to help children across the globe realize their true potential with easy access to good STEAM education.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
If you were to look at pictures of me as a kid, you would see me wielding tools while helping build my little sisters crib or holding metal pieces that I tried (and failed) to decorate a live outlet with. I have always been curious about the world around me.
At age 10, I earnestly started pursuing STEM education and leadership. My homeschool group didn’t have many opportunities in STEM for children and I saw how enthralled my little sister was with robotics and science. I wanted to use my interests to create a chance for others to learn about STEM, but I didn’t know how to. It was when I went shopping with my mom and saw a set of animal puppets that I realized that I could teach a class about animals. I ended up teaching a Kindergarten Animal Science Class.
In creating a curriculum, illustrating coloring sheets, and researching the animals, I realized that I absolutely adored both STEM and education. Being so immersed in STEM education from a young age, I realized how inaccessible and undiverse so many resources are, and I knew I had to do everything in my power to change that.
Our collective love of STEM is not a competition. We are all in it together.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
In 2019, I invented a robotics kit that costs less than $20 dollars and goes to kids for free. The robots teach project-based learning in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science.
When I was younger, I would have had no idea that just one little robot could impact so many people. I thought that I had to wait until I was older to make help thousands of people, but that was not the case. I taught my first class at age 10. I started my first robotics team at age 11. I began public school at age 14. I joined my first robotics team at age 15. I started my own community initiatives at age 16. I invented my first robot, started my own company, and self-published several books at age 18. Now at age 19, I know that the opportunities are limitless, even amongst great hardship.
I now reach thousands of children all around the world with my 3D printed robots. Even if things feel impossible or difficult, it is possible to make the change that you want to see.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I wake up looking forward to using my technical skills in robotics and technology to better the education of those in my community and world. I want kids to know that they can do anything. In addition, I am interested in designing robots in new and unique ways. Biological organisms, in particular, are fascinating models for developing cool robots, and I dream of creating new mechanisms inspired by everything from mountain goats to cuttlefish.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
Invest in other girls in STEM with your time and knowledge. Whether it be mentoring your little sister's all-girls robotics team, volunteering for Girls Who Code, or befriending other girls in STEM... it will help you lift up those around you to all become better and stronger. Ultimately, the biggest thing to realize is that our collective love of STEM is not a competition. Instead, we are all in it together and should see each other as the powerful, intelligent girls that we are. There are plenty of opportunities for all of us.
INSPO / FUN FACT
"Children learn from what they see. We need to set an example of truth and action." -Howard Rainer, Taos Pueblo-Creek.