Get ready to “make” summer S.T.E.A.M.-ier!

The YMCA’s annual THINGAMAJIG® INVENTION CONVENTION challenges kids ages 5-14 to show off their “maker” creativity! Thingamajig® offers more than a dozen hands-on challenges designed to spark curiosity and showcase kids’ S.T.E.A.M. skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)while they have fun building or simply designing new inventions.

The world needs more innovators and hands-on problem-solvers, so the YMCA makes sure kids everywhere can get in on the action leading up to the actual convention. With both virtual and in-person activities as well as day camps dedicated to creativity, everyone can pick their challenge and create their invention through June and July.

Then, the YMCA invites participants and S.T.E.A.M. fans together for an in-person celebration/convention full of demonstrations and activities at the beginning of August.

Event dates, challenge categories, and rules below.

  • June 1st — July 24 — Virtual Challenge 
    • Makers across the country get to work building their solutions to a range of challenges (listed below).  Click here for registration and challenge details. The deadline is July 24th at noon.
  • July 10-14 – Camp Challenge 
    • YMCA branches in and around DC offer a special Thingamajig Camp to help kids team up on larger projects, and counselors can lend a helping hand.
  • July 27-28   – Expert Review and Feedback
    • A panel of experts from different fields will provide meaningful feedback on each project to keep students active and engaged in STEAM skill-building.  The panel will also pick entries to receive special recognition in each category and overall.
  • August 2 – In-person Invention Convention
    • In person hands-on Science Fair/ Festival at the US Patent and Trade Office give all registered participants to meet experts, try their hands at something new, view demonstrations, work on individual and team challenges, and get inspired to create their next big idea!
      • Wednesday, August 2, 2023 – from 9am–3pm
      • The United States Patent & Trademark Office
      • 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314


  • Amazing Action Contraption — Have a blast as you challenge yourself to re-engineer an everyday object into something totally different. What cool thingamajig can you come up with?
  • App to You — Create an app that can make a difference for someone special.
  • Green Thing — Take a walk outside and discover a cool invention or green technology that will help to improve your neighborhood.
  • How on Earth — The earth is taking a beating. What new innovation can you create that can help make the environment better for everyone.
  • iCan…Play — Everyone deserves to play. Engineers an amazing game or toy that allows kids of all abilities to have fun while being safe.
  • JOY — Be a JOYMAKER by creating something unique that can make someone smile, laugh or brighten their day.
  • Limb Friendly — With a guiding heart and creative hands, design a helpful invention that will be appreciated by someone missing a limb or someone who needs a little extra help. What incredibly wonderful invention can you design?
  • Paper Made — Have fun as you use only paper or cardboard to create that really cool eco-friendly invention?
  • Ready, Set, GO — Put Newton’s Law of Motion in action. Using recycled materials and your engineering mind, design an awesome mobile creation that can spin, roll, rock and go. What awesome creation can you rev up?
  • Robot Magic — Robots big, robots small, design your amazing robot to perform a task that can assist in making the world better.
  • Scrap Art — Use your imagination and creative energy to design a masterful piece of art from scraps and other found objects. Sculpt it, frame it – find your way to the THINGAMAJIG Masterpiece Gallery.
  • Shoes, Shoes, New Shoes — Be the designer of some new and exciting environmentally friendly shoes. Put your name on the next new design of some really cool footwear.
  • Zero Waste Trashion Fashion — Looking to become the next Zero Waste Fashion Engineer? Now’s your chance to take fashion and the environment to heart. Design your incredible fashion from things found and unfound as you get ready to hit the runway in style.


  1. Young people can enter the competition as an individual or in a team of no more than 3 individuals.
  2. All participants must be between the ages of 5–14.
  3. You must enter an original invention/project (no manufactured kits accepted).
  4. Use of recycled materials is strongly encouraged.
  5. No more than $20 can be spent on materials for your invention/project.
  6. A log must be created and submitted/uploaded with your final entry.
  7. A display board must be created to illustrate the steps to your invention design.
  8. All Inventions, fashions and talents must be submitted as a part of the student registration via YouTube/photoFailure to provide a video will disqualify you from the competition.  Judging will be virtual using registered items only.
  9. Thingamajig Registration Deadline: FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2023 by midnight.
  10. A series of workshops designed to help understand the invention process and preparation for competition will be offered throughout the month of June-July.  Look out for announced events on the website.
  11. Interviews with Thingamajig Volunteer Judges will be held –  Thursday, July 27th and Friday, July 28, 2023.  Additional information will be sent to everyone eligible to be interviewed for this year’s competition.
Questions? Contact La Shaun Murray at lashaun.murray@ymcadc.org  or 202-290-8321.
Volunteer and partnership opportunities are available!

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Genette Comfort at genette.comfort@ymcadc.org or 202-797-4482.