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Full STEAM Ahead

In Y day camps and residential camps across our area, our participants are having the best summer ever and learning through play through hands-on activities that stimulate their imaginations and keep the learning going strong during the summer months.

The Thingamajig® Invention Convention

Thingamajig® is a daylong celebration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning, exploration, and healthy competition. This year, nearly 1,000 campers experienced the YMCA of San Francisco’s 4th annual Thingamajig Invention Convention. Campers learned through hands-on exhibits, challenges, and experiments. The Thingamajig® Invention Convention comes to life with the help of numerous corporate volunteers and community partners, like Macys, Nisum, and the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

Richmond District YMCA Campers

“Our invention is a fuse ball table. It’s the worms vs. the bees. We all love fuse ball and we wanted to make a fuse ball table. You spin the sticks, and then there’s a cardboard piece that hits the ball.” –Kai, 11
“It’s table tennis with sticks!” – Nicky, 11
Pictured L-R: Kai, Nicky, Noah, Claudia

Urban Services YMCA Camper

“What I made today is a pet gym, where all pets and wild animals go to work out. There is a treadmill. I think this is rock climbing, and right here is an animal lifting weights. Right here it says happy, healthy pets because they’re happy and they’re eating healthy. Animals work out because they need to get strong and protect themselves from other animals. My favorite wild animal is a lion because they have a fierce roar and they can eat bigger animals.” - Roman, 10


Buchanan YMCA Campers

Deanna: “This is our projector. We made this out of a cardboard box, and a magnifying glass, Popsicle sticks, and paint.”
Lyric: “We used tape, a cardboard box, and we painted it blue, green, and yellow, because those are our favorite colors.”
Samara: “On both of these, we had to use a box cutter.”
Deanna: “We learned that a lot of things can be made with cardboard. And it’s cool because we can just make things instead of going to the store and buying them.”
Interviewer: Now that you’re inventors, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Deanna: "I still want to be a dancer."
Samara: "Me too."
Lyric: "Me too."
Pictured L-R: Lyric, Deanna, Samara


Visiting the First Thingamajig Convention

A few weeks later, I got to experience the original Thingamajig® with our friends at the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington for their 24th annual Thingamajig® Invention Convention! Originally created by Janice Williams from the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington DC, Thingamajig® is a sight to behold.

One of my favorite inventions was a board game that helped youth put the Y’s core values (Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility) into practice. In this game, “the kinder you are, the farther you go.”

It was great to see STEAM coast to coast and I’m excited to take the energy and education so many of our campers experienced this summer into our out-of-school time programs this Fall.