A group of six determined, enthusiastic, and dedicated 5th grade students from John S. Malcom Elementary are moving mountains in the world of youth robotics. The Coding Queens—Adalee Geiss, Gabriella Backus, Lily Placey, Maryan Malkosh, Riley Divel, and Sophia Mantucca—are proud to be the very first all-girl robotics team to emerge from Laguna Niguel, and they are ready to show some girl power. Award-winning robotics team leader Nona Reimer assembled this team of powerful girls to “equip these scholars with the STEM tools they will use to unlock the future.” Another MVP on this team is coach Yazan Malkosh, a volunteer father with a Double Bachelors of Science in Microbiology and Architectural Design Engineering.
Since its formation in November 2016, the all-star team has shown astounding growth. While their coach and teacher are on hand to give the team thought-provoking material and plenty of encouragement, both leaders ensure that the Coding Queen’s victories are made that much sweeter by ensuring that every decision, robot design, coding pattern, etc., is made solely by the team members.
Most recently, the Coding Queens were among the youngest of 23 teams to compete in December at the 2016 VEX IQ San Diego Regional event, hosted by UCSD. Their claw-bot, fondly referred as “Zippy,” took first place in the Teamwork Skills Challenge. This win was accompanied by an invitation to the State VEX IQ Championship to be held this March in Pomona.
The Coding Queens find excitement in the challenge of changing the stereotypes often found in the engineering, STEM, robotics, and coding fields. The VEX robotics experience gives these students a glimpse at both the educational opportunities available to them as well as the thrill of being a part of the rapidly evolving world of technology. Participating on this team demonstrates to these girls—some of whom perhaps hadn’t thought about a future in STEM—just how much they can achieve in this largely male-driven industry. To support the Coding Queens in their engineering endeavor, please visit their GoFundMe page: Click here to support 5th Grade All Girls Robotics Team by Leanne Nannes Geiss