2022 Mid-GLAM Camp

Story by Maddie Weller

Summer is often synonymous with time off from school, but for a group of seventh-through-nineth graders, last summer meant diving into the world of materials science!

The Materials Science and Engineering Department hosted their week-long Mid-GLAM (Girls Learning About Materials) Camp at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus where students got hands-on experience with sometimes messy projects involving slime, batteries, liquid nitrogen ice cream and much more. Materials science concepts came to life as students watched demonstrations on shape memory alloys, tensile strength tests, biodegradable electronics, and dissolvable rubbers.

The week kicked off with hands-on demonstrations, including one that quickly became a fan favorite: heat sensitive, color-changing thermochromic slime.Shape-memory alloys and polymers, which are materials that can be physically altered and returned to their original structure with the application of heat, also made appearances during lab demonstrations. Campers also discovered non-Newtonian fluids in the form of Oobleck, which can switch between a solid and liquid state.

The topic of sustainability was later introduced in the week when campers learned about biodegradable materials, dissolvable rubber and sustainable batteries. At one point, students used saltwater and a multimeter to test the electric current running through the saltwater mixture, learning how to make sustainable batteries really work!

The Mid-GLAM campers finished the week sharing newfound knowledge of their chosen science research topic with families during a poster presentation at the Materials Research Lab (MRL). While at MRL, the campers received their own personal tour where they could check out the research projects that are being done in the facility. To wrap up a great week, everyone enjoyed ice cream, which they made themselves using liquid nitrogen.

The successful week could not have been done without the support and leadership of professors like Mid-GLAM Camp co-founder Cecilia Leal, Antonia Statt, Marie Charpagne, and Hua Wang; and students like Marilyn Porras Gomez, Julia Dreher-Threlkeld, Rimsha Bhatta and Kenyi Choy Hernandez, who encouraged learning through curiosity and hoped to inspire a new generation of materials scientist and engineers.