Jack Apel: Mad Scientist?

Sitting in his workshop, Jack Apel stared at his newest creation with bloodshot eyes.  Having studied natural science for years, and read Cornelius Agrippa for even longer, his masterpiece was now finished. Suddenly, as its wheels jerked for the first time and its motors whirred alive, Apel felt scared. What had he done? Running to his bed, he flung himself upon it and attempted to sleep, to forget, to wash the horrible sight from his eyes. For a moment, he opened his eyes, only to see the horrible, metallic, glinting face of the robot shining back at him in the darkness. Screaming, he ran out to the streets, not daring to look behind him lest that massive metal creation that spelled his doom was clunking after him.

As Apel walked, he pondered what misfortunes had brought him here. At age ten, he was first imbued with the knowledge of robotics, that forbidden science that perplexed even the greatest minds. With his natural enthusiasm, he delved into this study, achieving goals that had formerly been the stuff of science fiction. Finally, earlier that night, he had brought to life a formerly useless pile of gears, LEGO bricks, and metal. Shuddering, he ran towards the residence of his dear friend, hoping to gain solace and forget about the abomination he had created.

As he darted along the streets, he noticed a small piece of paper drifting on the ground.  Thinking, perhaps, that it was a robotics manual that he had left in his nightclothes, he picked it up and prepared to destroy it. Before he could, however, he realized that it was in fact a questionnaire. Hoping to warn others of his horrible tale of destruction, he began to answer it.

Name (or any nicknames!).  If you have a nickname, where did it originate from?

Jack Apel. Only one real nickname, JoDi (the capital D is important), which came from a game I was playing with some TPS friends, where we each masqueraded as a card. I was the Jack of Diamonds, which I would abbreviate as JoD. Someone at one point made the typo JoDi, and that’s what I’ve been referred to in the game ever since. (No nicknames in real life though, I’m normally not a fan of them.)

How many years have you been with TPS, what grade are you, and how old are you?

I have been with TPS for seven years. Geez, it’s been a long time.  I’m a junior, soon to be seventeen.

What classes are you taking this year, if any, and why did you pick them?

Pre Calculus Honors because math is required and AP Physics 1 because science is required. I choose the Honors/AP variants because of my chosen future career, mechanical engineering or computer science, which require high levels of math and science. I am also taking Econ and English 5: Western Adventure Literature this spring semester.  I chose Western Adventure Lit specifically because the books mentioned in the syllabus sounded more interesting than in others.

 Something unexpected about you?  

I’m 6’5” and don’t play basketball.

What’s your passion, and why do you enjoy it?

My passions are reading, writing, and drawing fiction; and FIRST robotics. Ever since I was six or seven I have been reading fiction books on my own (mostly fantasy). Before that, I always enjoyed nightly bedtime readings with my dad. When I was about twelve, I started to get an idea to write my own story, although I never did anything with it until about fourteen.  From there, I began to write, drawing influence from what I was reading, and drawing character portraits and diagrams to accompany the stories, because I’m not super good at getting details across in words.

FIRST Robotics has been a part of my life since I was ten, when I got a Lego Mindstorms kit for my birthday. It combines my computer talent and my love of building, earned from playing with Legos way too much, into a competitive sport that I can share with others.

Favorite Quote and Bible Verse?

Since I am re-reading Lord of the Rings recently, here’s one. “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time given to us.”  Replace time with any other noun and it is still extremely sound advice.  Wishing for something you don’t have never gets you anywhere, but using what you do have for what you want can get you everywhere.

As for a Bible verse, it would be Matthew 6: 26-34, which begins “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” and ends “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Worrying is a common thing I normally do. I feel stressed if I don’t remind myself of this verse. I’m a constant planner and thinker.

If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?  Is there a part of your personality that influenced your answer?

Probably a hawk, eagle, or falcon. The freedom that flying offers is the best answer I have as to why.  (It took me a lot of thought to get here from a list of 30 or 40 different animals. I think there are a lot of cool animals to be.)

What is something you would like to do one day and why?

Now you’re getting into territory I don’t like to think about because that far into the future is scary.  The only thing I could say for certain would be going to New Zealand to visit all of the Lord of the Rings filming locations.

What is your favorite word and why? 

Indeed. I am very easy to confuse, and often don’t know what to say in a conversation. This word is a great fallback when you don’t know what to say.

Extrovert/Introvert or MBTI type? 

Introvert and INTJ.

If you could be a color, what color would you be and why?

Blue!  It’s been my favorite color forever. It can be both a bold, shiny color and a light, soft color. It’s very versatile.

What’s your favorite movie and book and why?

Oh boy… this is a rabbit hole… My favorite movies are Star Wars Episodes I-VI, Rogue One, and Solo.  I saw the first couple of them (probably IV-VI, knowing my parents) at an early age. That was the first fandom I really immersed myself in, before I even knew what a fandom was.  As for the VII-IX movies, I tried to like them, but… they’re ok-ish.  I’ll leave it at that. My favorite book changes all the time.  My current favorite is probably Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, or really any of his books.

Favorite subject, and why?

In the past, it has been Mechanical Design in CAD, which is just a ton of fun to use design models.  Currently, if I had to choose, I would pick AP Physics 1, but only for the theory of it. In practice, it is insanely hard and annoying. I don’t have a favorite subject this year because I had to do a bunch of mandatory electives.

Fiction or nonfiction?  Why do you like one of them more?

Fiction!  Non-fiction is about normal people doing normal things, which I experience all day anyways.  Fiction lets me imagine dragons and spaceships and whatnot, and get away from the real world for a time.

What is an interesting story from your life? 

Last year, my robotics team, Fellowship of the Robot, made it to an international-level competition held in Houston.  Just being there, especially as one of the guys who drove the robot and programmed it, was a really awesome experience.

Which holiday is your favorite?  Was there a specific incident in your life that influenced your preference?

Christmas. There isn’t a single incident,  just the general repeated pattern. Christmas is one of the three or four times a year I get to see most of my mom’s side of the family. It’s always been a really refreshing break from school that we fill with a lot of fun things.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?  

Don’t be middle-school-me and procrastinate on everything.  Don’t be current me and take on so many responsibilities that you can barely do school.  Be responsible with your time and knowledgeable about how much you can handle.

After answering the questionnaire, Apel heard an alarm blare.  As he opened his bleary eyes, he realized that the horrific events of the past hour were only a dream.  “Oops,” he said to himself.  “I must have spent too long reading Frankenstein last night!”


  1. Wow cool Article! It was cool to learn some things about you Jack! And wow 5’6 that’s tall x) Thanks for sharing some facts about yourself, and also some advice! 🙂

  2. Heck ya!! Blue is totally the best color in the world!!

  3. nick your spotlights are always hilariously wonderful good job

    “which came from a game I was playing with some TPS friends, where we each masqueraded as a card”
    ah yes, good old convoluted TKID xD the only good thing that came out of that in the end were the nicknames.

  4. nick your spotlights are always hilariously wonderful good job

    “which came from a game I was playing with some TPS friends, where we each masqueraded as a card”
    ah yes, good old convoluted TKID xD. The only good thing that came out of that in the end were the nicknames :p

  5. Naomi Hochstedler

    Great article! And yes, First LEGO League is awesome! My team hasn’t yet made it past the regional level (in Brazil) but it’s always been so much fun. And also Lord of the Rings… some of the best books ever.

    • Haha, it’s nice to find another robot enthusiast. Getting to Regionals itself is a hard task, good job on doing that! (My team has only made it to Worlds twice, once in FLL and once in FTC, and we were definitely not anywhere near the top of the board while there.)

  6. ,,,,,,its the giant
    jk nice one Jack it seems very you I love it

  7. eyy it’s JoDi!

  8. Hahahahhaha, Cool! And u r tall!! Interesting article again! Lol