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Organized Chaos: Thingamajig 2019

As National Summer Learning Week wraps up, we’re reflecting on our fifth year of running the Thingamajig® Invention Convention. Thingamajig® is a daylong celebration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning, exploration, and healthy competition. On June 28, 2019, 1,025 campers gathered at SVN West and got their hands dirty at 52 activity stations managed by nearly 90 community and corporate volunteers from 16 companies and organizations.

The Thingamajig® Invention Convention came to life this year thanks to our venue sponsor Non Plus Ultra, and our event sponsor Wells Fargo.

Community & Corporate Volunteerism

We couldn't run Thingamajig® without the support of our community and corporate volunteers. We love the support, and our volunteers love seeing the joy on the kid's faces.

Macy's Tech

“It is so powerful to see kids thinking creatively. We give them the tools and just let them go.” - Angelo Cilia (pictured left), Macy's Tech


Play Well

“I went to school for structural engineering and I was practicing in the industry of structural engineering for 15 years. After having kids, I decided I wanted to work in STEM education and here I am employed at Play Well. 

These campers just come to the table and they are not afraid to just go right in and start building. Even if I’m not instructing, the campers are just coming to the table and grabbing things and putting them together. I love to see what they can come up with.” - Petra Patton, Play Well (pictured left)



“I thought I had everything under control. But when kids started flowing in and started painting with the paint brushes, everything went out of control and you can see how messy it is right now. This is my first experience and I’m really loving it. I have to go wash my hands, and probably take a shower, but it’s very fantastic. It’s amazing to see these kids creating new things. Everyone is doing so many things at random.

For this project, they have magnets on the end of chopsticks, and they were supposed to pick up a medal piece and dip it in the paint and the exercise was to see if the magnet picks up only the metal and not the non-metallic things. But you see, I think the magnet is off. The children are just enjoying the paint. The idea was one thing but I think it’s turning into a painting competition.

I’m a software engineer at Nisum. Like this project, I may have a pre-understanding when developing something in my work, but when it goes into production, it is all chaos.” - Sandeep Chowhan, Nisum


Our Young Inventors

Thingamajig® started as a way to spark the inventive and creative minds of children through hands-on exhibits and challenges. Congratulations to all of our young inventors who pushed themselves to build it with their own hands and explore endless possibilities and solutions.

Ever, 9 Years Old | 1st Place Winner | Richmond District YMCA

"I made a Golden Gate Bridge out of lanyards, and popsicle sticks, and a lot of tape. It took me two or three days to make. Two other campers helped me with this project: Baxter and Edward. And my camp counselor Ethan helped a little bit too. Me and Ethan decided to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I’m gonna be honest. Everything I do, I do it kinda lazy, because I don’t want to do a lot of work. But for STEAM and math and stuff, I try my hardest."

“I’ve known Ever since he was 3 years old,” says Richmond District YMCA Camp Director Crystal. “This camper right here was really excited for this STEAM project, so we’re really proud of him.”

"The amount of pride he has shown for this project got me excited to see it," reflects Camp Counselor Cameron. "On the car ride bringing the bridge over I was so careful because I knew this meant so much to him. We have seen the pride and happiness it has brought to Ever and the others involved. He's just a great joy to have in camp."


Invention Convention Participants | Presidio Community YMCA

L-R: Jordan V, 10 Years, Philip M., 10 Years, Owen L, 10 Years, Zach S., 10 Years from Presidio Community YMCA

Owen: “It’s a vending machine that shoots out candy on a ramp, and then it comes out and you can grab it.”

Philip: “I was struggling what to make and I thought, let me talk to my friends! We all like food, and we could build something that gives us food. But electricity is a problem, so how do you make something that dispenses food that doesn’t use electricity?

Zach: “We ended up building a box full of candy with a mechanism that, when you pull it, releases candy, but if you push it back in, it stops releasing candy.”

Jordan: “I think the funnest part of this project was when we actually got this to work.”

Zach: “And that was just yesterday!”