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Girls Learn About Materials Science at the 2016 GLAM G.A.M.E.S. Camp

A GLAM GAMES camper (left) makes an adjustment as she 3D prints an object.

By Elizabeth Innes,

As its name implies, during the 2016 edition of GLAM (Girls Learning About Materials)  G.A.M.E.S. camp, 19 high school girls did just that. From July 10th–16th, the girls learned about a wide variety of materials, ranging from polymers, to biomaterials, to a material that's a favorite of girls everywhere— chocolate. Plus, and probably more importantly, the girls were exposed to numerous female role models in materials engineering.

In its sixth year, the Material Science and Engineering (MatSE) Department’s GLAM GAMES (Girls' Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp featured numerous hands-on activities. They learned about 3D printing with polymers while 3D printing some tiny figures to take home. They discovered the intriguing properties of non-Newtonian fluids; they experimented with composites, such as memory metal; and they not only got their hands on several kinds of chocolate as they learned about its material properties, but they got to taste them—all in the name of science.


Two of the many role models the participants were exposed to all week long were GLAM's co-coordinators: MatSE Ph.D. student Kaitlin Tyler, whose research involves working on manipulating eutectic material microstructures for optical applications, and MatSE Assistant Professor Jessica Krogstad, whose research focuses on material performance in extreme environments (like gas turbine engines and nuclear reactors). While 2016 was Krogstad’s first year as GLAM coordinator, she's not new to GAMES; she served as a GAMES counselor as an Illinois undergrad when she got her BS degree in MatSE in 2007.

Kaitlin Tyler has been serving as the coordinator of the GLAM camp for four years. She takes a week out of her summer to do this camp every year in hopes of passing on some of her excitement about engineering to the campers: “Because I love interacting with the students,” she acknowledges. “I love seeing them getting excited about engineering and sharing something I am obviously passionate about, as I am a graduate student in Materials Science. I obviously enjoy it. And being able to spark that passion into other people is really fun. I like it.”

GLAM Co-Coordinator Kaitlin Tyler discusses chocolate with a GLAM GAMES camper during the "The Material Science of Chocolate" activity.

One person in whom Tyler definitely sparked that passion is MatSE undergrad Devon Goszkowicz, who has worked as a lab assistant in GLAM twice now—both last summer and again this past summer. According to Tyler, Devon was a GLAM camper her first year as coordinator. Then, a year later, Tyler served as Devon's TA when she was an Illinois freshman taking the "Intro to Materials Science" class.

Goszkowicz, who will be a junior in MatSE this fall, indicates that it was because of the impact that GLAM GAMES had on her personally that she has been participating.

"I got involved with GAMES this summer because I went to GLAM Camp as a high schooler. Going to this camp is what made me realize I wanted to study Material Science, so I wanted to help out as a college student."

According to Goszkowicz, who spent a lot of time interacting with the girls during various labs, says one activity the girls particularly enjoyed this summer was casting, during which the campers make molds out of silicone, then cast an object into those molds. She reports that another was vat polymerization—a form of 3D printing where a UV light was used to cure a liquid polymer.

In addition, Goszkowicz was also the Summer Manager for MakerGirl this year, and was on hand when the GAMES campers visited MakerGirl as one of the camp's evening activities.

As it did with her, Goszkowicz believes that GLAM GAMES camp is having an extremely positive impact on the girls who attend. "At the end of the week," she says, "the girls visually appear more excited about engineering and have loved each activity introducing them to it."

Devon Goszkowicz, a rising junior in MatSE, and a lab assistant for GLAM GAMESin 2015 and 2016. (Photo courtesy of Devon Goszkowicz.)

In terms of its long-term impact, she also believes that "many of the girls will go into engineering after attending the camp." In fact, she reports seeing some of the girls who participated in last year's GLAM on campus. "I have seen quite of a few of them at Illinois, and in MatSE here at the university," she says. In fact, I chose MatSE at Illinois partially due to the exposure I had to the program during my time at GLAM Camp."

Story and photographs by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative. Reposted from I-STEM, August 9, 2016