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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Damion Henniger talks about his insect art as YMCA campers create inventions in Ogden Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. YMCA of Northern Utah hosted the first Thingamajig Invention Convention event where kids built unique inventions.

OGDEN — The bubbling green soap and baking soda oozing out of 9-year-old Eli Negrete's lemon volcano wasn't a typical picture of science.

Neither were fruit smoothies made from a bike-powered blender.

But the first Thingamajig Invention Convention at the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation YMCA Community Family Center was not a typical science, technology, engineering and math event.

"We want to give kids an oportunity to learn new career paths through STEM activities and really build that confidence of inventing something or doing something with their hands and thinking through an idea," said Michelle Schmid, the center's YMCA director.

The YMCA of Northern Utah program, which includes centers from Weber and Salt Lake counties, was one of only seven programs picked for the convention's pilot program this year.

Executech, Molina Healthcare, Geneva Rock Products, the U.S. Forest Service Ogden Ranger District, Logistic Specialties Inc., Hope Alliance and Weber State University all combined to help give the YMCA campers a hands-on STEM experience.

At the Logistic booth, cheers erupted as a miniature car built out of a hot dog, Twinkie and Life Savers zoomed down a plywood slope.

"You want to know why mine went so fast? Because it had a jetpack on it!" exclaimed 6-year-old Robert Ashby.

Executech representatives were surprised when 6-year-old Durant Martin identified the circuit board and processor while taking it apart.

But inside the YMCA center, children chattered excitedly as they examined more than 20 inventions made of recycled materials.

"It's called the 'Bed, Boat and Beyond.' I came up with the name," explained 10-year-old Aliyah Johnson as she proudly showed judges her sleep-powered cardboard boat.

A boat within a boat, the mock-up invention ran on sleep and the calm feelings of the operator, Johnson said.

"And it prevents pollution," she added.

All the inventions were sorted and later judged based on three categories: Paper Made, Whimsical Wire and Trashin' Fashion.

Johnson's team went on to win the Children's Choice Award.

Flower Bracelet took first place in the Paper Made category. Dragon Cup won the Whimsical Wire category, and a dress made from a plastic garbage bag took first place in the Trashin' Fashion category.

"I think the kids had a lot of fun working on their products," said Ann Nelson, the regional director for Ogden and Weber County YMCA. "They used a lot of imagination and they were very creative with the materials that they were given.

The Ogden-based YMCA also has the option of sending the winners to the conclusion of this year's program at the national convention's award ceremony in Maryland in September.

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