San Dieguito Academy junior Nikki Arm, 17, poses with her book, “Riley Loves Robotics,” in front of one of the mills at the school’s metal shop. The book is aimed at trying to get young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Courtesy photo
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High school junior publishes book to get girls interested in STEAM

ENCINITAS — For as long as Nikki Arm can remember, science has been her passion. So when it came time for the longtime Girl Scout to select her Gold Award project, it was no surprise that it would focus on her love for science — especially robotics.

Nikki, a 17-year-old junior at San Dieguito Academy, combined that love for science and robotics and her other love — creative writing — in a series of books aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, to young girls. She has the published the first book of the series, “Riley Loves Robotics,” a 32-page story done in Seuss-like prose about a little girl who turns to robotics to make 100 posters for the fictitious “Ocean Conservancy Day.”


“Then it hit me!

As I gazed at my posters,

At metal figures with gears

And powerful motors


“Robots!!!” I yelled

With a shriek of delight.

“They can make 1,000


within one single night!


“I knew right away

Just what I should do

I’ll build a cool robot

That could draw — and color too!”


“I feel that getting girls engaged and involved with STEAM is really important nowadays because girls don’t get a lot of exposure to it at an early age, because it is seen as sort of a guy thing to do,” Nikki said. “I wanted to show them that girls can do it too, and it is really fun, but also really important.”

Science and robotics play major role in Nikki’s life. A 4.0-student with dreams of attending either UC Santa Cruz or the innovative Minerva Schools at KGI, Nikki is the head machinist on San Dieguito’s robotics team, Team Paradox, which is currently preparing for the FIRST Robotics San Diego Regional Competition March 3 through March 5 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Nikki said she learned about the school’s robotics team during an open house her freshman year. She joined, and has been hooked ever since.

“I have sort of fallen in love with it,” Nikki said.

When she started working on her Gold Award, she went in knowing that she wanted to do something that embodied her passion for STEAM. She began to research children’s books and quickly learned that there weren’t a lot of books out there that promoted science and technology to young girls.

“I could count the books on my hand,” Nikki said. “I decided at that point that I was going to try to fill the void.”

She modeled the book’s principal character after her cousin, Riley. She had her aunt and uncle take photos of Riley and used a simple computer program to convert them into hand-drawn illustrations.

Nikki has already started working on the next book in the series, and says she gets excited thinking of the chance to have an impact on a little girl’s life.

“If one girl makes a decision to get involved with science or robotics after reading my book, then I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” Nikki said.