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McAllen ISD: Two nine-year-old students place third in international robotics competition

Two nine-year-old students from McAllen won first in state and third in their age group in the international Wonder League Robotics Competition.

Siena Molinaro and Ena Garza, or the "Programming Princesses" as the duo calls themselves, participated in the competition that began in October 2016; The winners were announced Tuesday in a live ceremony.

"The fact that you get to use robots and program them to make them move is really cool,” Molinaro said.

Over 20,000 students in the competition used Dash and Dot Robots to design solutions for real world issues by completing coding lessons and challenges.

“Which not only encompassed coding, but also had them creating a journal-- their science journal with all their facts,” said the girls' coach Cynthia Cooksey. “They also had to create a town and city video to show off our wonderful city of McAllen and our schools."

In the entire competition, 44 percent of the competitors were girls, and 35 percent of those girls were in the six to eight age bracket. Molinaro and Garza placed first in state and third internationally in the six to eight age group.

The Wonder Workshop allows young women to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Young women are becoming architects, they’re becoming lawyers, they’re doing everything now," said Cooksey. "There is no limit for women in this world, and this is one competition that just showed us -- the sky’s the limit for everybody now.”

Molinaro and Garza's work has inspired classmates to learn how to code.

"A lot of the girls in my class are always like, 'Siena, I want to do coding, can I do it?' and I’m like 'Well, you have to ask Ms. Cooksey and if she says yes then you can come join,” said Molinaro.


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