Back to Blog
Behind the NIHF Scenes

Meet Isabel Garcia: Camp Invention Alum and STEM Challenge Champion

This year, the National STEM Challenge brought incredible young minds together in a friendly competition as they presented their accomplishments in STEM. The challenge displays a celebration of innovative, student-driven solutions to global challenges in the areas of Environmental Stewardship, Future Foods, Health & Medicine, Powering the Planet, Tech for Good and Space Innovation. Among the young champions selected for 2024 was Isabel Garcia, aspiring holistic health expert and Camp Invention® alumna.

Camp Invention is a one-of-a-kind nationwide STEM camp designed for curious kids like Isabel. Now a 2024 STEM Challenge Champion, Isabel recently sat down with the National Inventors Hall of Fame® to discuss her challenge project, as well as Camp Invention’s powerful influence on her journey in STEM.


Making STEM Discoveries and Fostering Creativity at Camp Invention

Now a sophomore in high school in North Carolina, Isabel first attended Camp Invention early in elementary school. “Camp Invention was my first introduction to STEM,” she shared. “It’s my earliest memory of a summer camp, and this environment really fostered creativity for me.” After attending camp, she recalled being in her mom’s office frequently, researching science-related topics, from cancer to volcanoes. “I wanted to further expand my knowledge based off of what I had learned at Camp Invention,” she said. “I built confidence because before this experience, I hadn’t seen anyone doing STEM… I hadn’t been exposed to STEM in my school yet, and this really introduced this entire new world of possibility.”

Since her days as a camper, Isabel has cultivated her interest in STEM through participating in International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), Science Olympiad and National Science Bowl, a club she brought to her school based on the nationwide competition hosted by the Department of Energy.

While her list of impressive accomplishments continues to grow, Isabel wholeheartedly credits Camp Invention with igniting her interest in STEM and setting her on this path. “It was definitely my first start in STEM, and that is probably one of the only reasons I’m at the point that I am today,” she explained. “Had I not been exposed to that amazing environment in which I really felt like I could do anything, I don’t think I could do the things I’m doing now.”


Taking on the STEM Challenge

Isabel’s submission to the National STEM Challenge channeled both her tremendous empathy as well as her interest in holistic health remedies. She developed and submitted a topical solution that can be applied to wounds, post-surgery or post-wound, which she proved to be more effective at preventing bacterial infections as the leading triple antibiotic ointment. While this development is impressive on its own, Isabel’s innovation is in using antimicrobial compounds that combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a more natural – and potentially more accessible – form of treatment. “These antimicrobial compounds are found across all continents,” she explained. “I worked to develop them into a topical solution by combining them with different application methods, like petroleum jelly, increasing their versatility.”

Among nearly 300 entries, Isabel was selected as a STEM Champion and given the opportunity to showcase her project to some of our nation’s most influential leaders at the 2024 National STEM Festival in Washington, D.C., presented by EXPLR.

“I’m beyond excited to present my project in D.C. because it makes me feel very happy that I’m creating change for the world,” she said. “I remember when I was a little kid, I told my mom one day, I’m going to change the world. Whenever I can do things like this and share my project with people and see others get excited about it, it fills me with joy.”


Providing Inspiration to Young Innovators

Looking to her future, Isabel dreams of being the CEO of a pharmaceutical company that focuses on more holistic ways to treat diseases, which aligns completely with her STEM Challenge submission. She also plans to continue learning more languages. “I grew up with an immigrant mother, so I learned Spanish from her, and I feel being able to communicate with people from across the world creates a bond and connection, especially between scientists.” While currently fluent in English, Spanish and Hindi, she is working on learning both Korean and Mandarin right now, and she looks forward to attending Arabic introductory classes at her university next semester.

While reflecting on her childhood, Isabel stated that children can “absolutely change the world.” With an innate curiosity, she encourages all young learners to “continue questioning, continue asking” and never stop believing that “you can change the world.”

As for the Camp Invention experience, she affirmed, “I would send a message to all young kids out there that they should do Camp Invention to feel inspired and know that they, too, can do something in STEM.”


Explore Camp Invention for Your Child

To learn more about the inspiring influence of Camp Invention, visit our website.

Related Articles