SDA senior writes children’s book focused on STEAM


A senior at San Dieguito Academy wants young girls to know they can play important roles in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) alongside the boys.

“Even though I love it now, I don’t want more girls to feel like I did,” said Nikki Arm, 18. “When I was in elementary school, there were robotics teams, but I only knew of boys joining them. I saw it as maybe I wasn’t allowed to join.”

The Carlsbad girl has written a book called Riley Loves Robotics, which is aimed toward encouraging young girls — with a target age range in second through fifth grades — that they have a place in STEAM.

The book, which Arm is currently attempting to raise $6,000 for on Kickstarter, is the first in a series of books on STEAM that she is planning. She hopes to release Riley Loves Robotics by the summer to her Kickstarter supporters.

She said she hopes to influence more females in STEAM with the books, which started as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project about two years ago.

Arm, who is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, said she wanted to combine her loves of creative writing and science.

“The number of girls in STEAM is growing, but it still needs help,” she said. “A lot of young girls love reading, but a lot of them kind of shy away when you start introducing sciences. I figured this would be a good way to pull them in when they might not otherwise look at it.”

Arm said it is also important for boys to know girls can have STEAM careers, too.

“I want them to not really think twice about seeing girls involved in these things,” she said. “It won’t be anything strange to them as they’re growing up. It would just be part of the norm.”

Each book is divided into three sections, including an illustrated rhyming story, a detailed section about the STEAM topic and a glossary.

Arm said she sparked an interest in STEAM when she was in elementary school but didn’t yet pursue it because she thought it was restricted to boys.

When Arm got to high school, she saw other girls on the robotics team, Team Paradox 2012, and decided she wanted a piece of the action, too.

Now, she is the head machinist for the team, which won the San Diego Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on March 10. The team will advance to the world championships next month in Houston.

Arm said she plans to study mechanical engineering and marine biology in college to eventually build deep sea vehicles to explore the deep ocean.

To donate to Arm’s Kickstarter, visit