For my capstone I wrote a business paper that outlines how to create a program that conducts research and activities in the subject it was built around. As for why I chose the project, I chose this project because for the past 4 years I have founded and built a program that focuses on doing research in the Astronomy field along with improving Astronomy education and STEM education in general. While I was creating and building the program from scratch, I had no guideline in how to build a program while creating my program, so for my capstone, my program advisors and I came to the agreement that I should write a guide to creating a program so that people aren’t building a program without guidance.
My capstone addresses the core values in two different ways. The first way is was my process of building Project S.P.A.C.E (Scholastic Program for Astrophotography and Celestial Events) since during that process I went through Inquiry, Research, Collaboration, Presentation and Reflection numerous times to refine the program and bring to where it is today. The second way was the actual paper writing because while I wrote the paper I had to ask myself questions in the shoes of an outsider to identify what I actually did at the start of my process for Inquiry. For Research, I recalled my memories of actually creating the program and looked through documents I had written at the start of the program for resources we used. Collaboration was my capstone mentors helping me recall memories and identify steps I took that I missed. Presentation is the 25-page paper I put together at the end explaining how to create a program and Reflection was the constant refining I did with my peers to make the paper great.
My process for the capstone was complex due to trying to recall precisely every step I took to create my program. The steps I took to complete the paper were Recall steps, Approach mentors about whether the steps recalled were accurate or there were some before it and then repeat this process until I had an outline for the steps so that all I had to do was to fill in information for each step. While I was recalling, my mentor Derrick Pitts had to point out some steps I missed because those steps seemed natural for me but he pointed out that they might not come naturally to others as they did to me. To overcome this, I went to Derrick when I completed the outline and went over what each step in the outline represented and meant which allowed him to point out steps I skipped over.
A lot of the resources I used to complete my capstone were human resources like Derrick Pitts and my original founding members of the program. Although they made up most of my resources, they did not make up all of them. I also used the same resources I used when we first started to help me remember some of the tools I used to start researching in Astronomy. I also used notes and random writings on my computers to piece together memories completely.
What I’m most proud of in this capstone is what others stand to gain from this paper. I’m most proud of that because I remember why I created my program: to improve education in Astronomy and STEM. This paper allows others to create programs similar to mine whether they have the same goals or not, it doesn’t matter because the programs are created to improve an aspect of a life. Whether that aspect is education, environment or a concept, I’m happy to know that my paper can help to improve things faster due to those innovators having a guideline to make creating a program easier for them than creating it from scratch. I learned a lot from my process because I reflected on everything the last 4 years related to my program. It’s helped me to see where I could do better and what I need to work on moving forward. One of those things to work on is notifying the program members far ahead of time since I’m still not doing well with that.
If I could do this capstone over again the only thing I would change is getting more people to help me recollect the steps I took since although I got it done and wrote the paper, there are still pieces that come to me every once in a while that I wonder if I should of put into the paper. SLA is a better place because I was a student there because I created a student-led program at SLA that is soon going to become a national program. I remember hearing one of my superiors at The Franklin Institute telling me in a meeting this, “There are two things that came out of SLA that are no place else: Educon, the educational conference held and run by the school, and your program, Project S.P.A.C.E, the only student-led program to be created by a student for students that does research into a subject like Astronomy with minimal adult direction.” One of the biggest ways that I’ve made SLA a better place since I was a student there is that through running and building my program, I’ve created awesome new connections and opportunities for students at SLA whether its still being able to go to Wednesdays at the Franklin as freshmen or giving students more ILPs to do at TFI. Personally, I think I have done what Lehmann once told me which was, “You’ve ‘maximized’ your experience at SLA”. I truly believe I have since I don’t think I could answer how I could of made better use of the time I had at SLA.