UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA9) — The 22nd Annual Thingamajig Invention Convention kicked off Thursday in Prince George’s County to spark the inventive and creative minds of kids across D.C.

The YMCA of Greater Washington brought thousands of children together to explore what’s new and next. WUSA9 anchor Lesli Foster emceed the event.

Campers aged 4 to 15 showcased creations made from recyclable materials, participated in cooking challenges, film making, physical fitness competitions, LEGO robotics and more. It’s all part of the STEM initiative to engage children in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I enjoy it a lot because it’s fun,” an attendee said. “We come here every year [and] we create lots of new things.”

Thingamajig has been recognized by the White House for exposing children to STEM and helping improve their grades. The invention convention will be held in 18 cities over the next year.

“Young people are smarter than we often give them credit, but they’re going to be our leaders,” one woman said. “We need this time now to nurture their enthusiasm.”

Janice Williams, the senior vice president of youth development at YMCA, created the event in 1994 as a way for kids to demonstrate what they learned as part of a science and technology came.

In 2015, more than 4,000 area children participated.