G.A.M.E.S. Campers Learn about Bioengineering While Breaking Down Stereotypes


One Bioengineering G.A.M.E.S. camper takes another's blood pressure during a hands-on activity.

July 20, 2016

For one week this summer, 31 high school girls were exposed to the world of bioengineering (BIOE) at the Bioengineering G.A.M.E.S. camp (July 10th–15th). They learned about many aspects of bioengineering research, such as cell culture, health disparity, biometrics and 3D printing, MRIs, ethnography, synthetic biology, and much more. While the camp focuses on BIOE material, co-directors Jenny Amos and Olivia Cangellaris strive to “help [the girls] realize everything they can do as an engineer, not necessarily sticking with BIOE, but opening up their eyes to what it means to be an engineer [and] to create things to help transform the world in different ways.”


A Bioengineering G.A.M.E.S. camper performs a cell culture.

This ideology is what brings these two co-directors back every year.

“Seeing the girls who come out of the camp who are just convinced they’ve discovered where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing… it’s always great to say that you in some small way could have impacted helping them find their direction.”


Jenny Amos shows campers how to take an accurate blood pressure reading during one of BIOE G.A.M.E.S. camp's activities.

Amos also adds to this by saying “Year after year, we have fun doing it because we’re just us, you know—having a good time teaching the girls—but also why the girls are comfortable talking to us, following up with us, sending us notes, and then they end up coming here.” Their closeness with girls and the way they keep in contact over time is astounding, and you can truly tell the impact the camp has on girls since “It’s at least a handful [of the campers] that come to Illinois, whether or not they come to the one they studied or other majors.”

The girls aren’t the only ones benefiting from this camp, though. Cangellaris says, “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve picked up things about curricula and how you tailor things to students with different backgrounds in terms of what they know. The nice thing about G.A.M.E.S. is that it’s very refreshing. It’s the same with teaching in general. Every year you get a group of new people that refresh your excitement for what it is you’re doing.”

Amos adds to this by saying,“I benefit from it in my career; some research papers have gone out about G.A.M.E.S. camp. We try to have a lot of fun with it, but it’s also helpful for us career wise, personal development wise. It’s just kind of beneficial to everyone.”


A camper examines a cell through a microscope during a cell culture activity.

When asked what their favorite BIOE G.A.M.E.S. event was this year, Amos and Cangellaris couldn’t decide since, “They’re all good.” When pressured more and asked which event the girls seem to have the most fun at, Cangellaris stepped up and said going to JUMP Simulation Education Center in Peoria, IL. Amos described it as “a simulation and training center for doctors in training so they learn to practice life-saving techniques or inserting IV lines, things like that.” Cangellaris said that this was “only the second time we’ve done it, but last year it was really exciting.” This all-day field trip is “a very novel experience, and it’s a way for them to see how bioengineering affects medicine.”

G.A.M.E.S. camp isn’t just teaching these high school girls about bioengineering research techniques, it’s also teaching them to go out in the world and do whatever they want, no matter how society views it. G.AM.E.S. camp inspires the campers through their strong, relatable, female co-directors.


Olivia Cangellaris (left) helps a camper with an activity.

“It’s incredibly important to have role models of all genders, and all ethnicities, and all kinds of backgrounds. Because it’s very difficult to envision yourself doing something if you can’t see someone like you doing that,” Cangellaris states. That’s why the BIOE G.A.M.E.S. camp is so important to these high school girls.

“Being able to see strong women in STEM—whether it be engineering, mathematics, or life sciences—it really helps you visualize and say, ‘I can be like that person!’ And being able to show you’re passionate about something that in some ways people consider to be like a boys’ club and maintain your own identity and have that become a part of your identity is very important,” continues Cangellaris.


A camper discusses the results of their project with her team.

That’s what the BIOE G.A.M.E.S. camps do; they create a warm and welcoming environment for these high school girls and expose them to many different science techniques, all while being led by two funny, friendly role models (Amos and Cangellaris) that give these young, developing minds the push to believe in themselves and that they can succeed in a stereotypical male field.

Cangellaris expands on this idea by relating it to how she personally grew up: “Growing up, I never felt that there were stereotypes I had to break away from in order to pursue a career in a STEM field, because that was never part of the conversation within our family dynamic, and their faith in me is the basis of my courage to look and work beyond (or I suppose in spite of) those stereotypes in my undergraduate career and beyond.”

Now, at this camp, Amos and Cangellaris are in charge of instilling faith in these developing girls so that they can believe in themselves and pursue whatever major they want without being held back by gender norms.

Story by Alexandra Anne Peltier, I-STEM undergraduate student.
Photos by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative.
More: 8-12 Outreach, BioE, GAMES, GAMES: BioE, Summer Camp, Women in STEM, 2016

For additional I-STEM articles about G.A.M.E.S. camp, see:


An Illinois grad student teaches BIOE GAMES campers how to perform a cell culture.





Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.