Summer camp across the South Shore YMCA will look a little bit different this year, and the reason for the change is making waves nationwide. YMCA of the USA recently chose ten associations across the country to participate in the Thingamajig© challenge, including the South Shore Y. The news was celebrated in an April 13, 2016, press release from The White House on President Obama’s call for this generation of students to embrace STEM education and use their inherent ingenuity to “tackle the grand challenges of our time”: “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in collaboration with the YMCA of the USA, will help 10 new host cities around the country expand Thingamajig, a program developed by the YMCA of Metropolitan DC. These cities will create programs, seminars, and tools that assist students in connecting STEM education with real-world problem solving skills. This partnership builds on the last 2 years of expansion across YMCA of the USA, which reaches over 100,000 youth—with a focus on low-income and underrepresented youth—in 48 states and Washington, D.C.”
In 1994, YMCA of Metropolitan Washington created Thingamajig©, an Invention Convention, where youth watch their creativity take flight. Each year, in preparation for the event, children receive a list of invention challenges, all centered on finding practical solutions to everyday problems. Over the years, the event has evolved into the largest STEM-related convention in the area, drawing 4000 youth ages 6-14, many of whom come from low-income and disadvantaged families. Thingamajig©, which is held the last Thursday in July, is open to all children in the metropolitan region as well as those enrolled in YMCA day camps. The rules restrict teams and individuals to using only recycled materials for their projects and spending no more than $20.
This summer, campers at the many day camps of the South Shore YMCA, led by the science education team at the Y’s South Shore Natural Science Center, will join the Thingamajig© movement. Youths will be challenged to come up with problem-solving projects and given the chance to present their inventions at an end of summer celebration of imagination and resourcefulness, gearing them up for a triumphant and confident return to school in the fall. Stay tuned for how you can take part in this summer’s Thingamajig© Invention Convention with the campers and staff of the South Shore YMCA!