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Teen earns national award after fire, car crash leads to love of STEM

Aidan Spencer thought basketball was his life, until he couldn’t play due to an accident. This led to his love of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — also known as STEM.

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Aidan Spencer thought basketball was his life, until he couldn’t play.

"Basketball was a really big part of my life. It's what I wanted to do," he said.

Not long after Spencer’s home burned down in 2014, he broke his back in a near-deadly car crash with a distracted driver. Spencer’s mother was left in a wheelchair.

“It was a pretty traumatic experience that basically left me feeling helpless,” he said.

Spencer’s doctor told him it would be years before he could play sports again. During his recovery, two friends invited him to a robotics club. With just one meeting, his love for STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – was born.

"I immediately knew this would be the place for me. It gave me a purpose and something that I could work toward."

Spencer wanted other students to have the same passion for STEM, so he started raising money and started three local robotics teams.

His efforts landed him national attention, and he won a 4-H Youth in Action award and a scholarship and even got to take part in a trivia challenge with none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy.