WASHINGTON &

Louis Braille developed a system of printing for blind people, James Naismith invented the game of basketball, Willis Carrier gave us air conditioning (thank you, Willis!) and Russia Ball came up with the Wish Maker.




Never heard of that last one, you say?




Well, it's a stack of three painted boxes with a hole in the top. And it's magical: It will grant "any type of wish," says its 12-year-old inventor, who lives in Washington.




This month, Russia and about 600 other kids took part in the YMCA's 13th annual Thingamajig Invention Convention. The sky was the limit on creativity. Well, there were a few limits: All of the items had to be made with recycled materials, and the inventors couldn't spend more than $20 on their creations.




If you could invent or create anything, what would it be? A super-fast car? A fashion item? A new game?




Juan Green, Darius Pledger and Khalib Owens, all of Washington, made a robot.Its legs were water bottles, its brain a wad of gum. The 8-year-old friends like Transformers, which is why they wanted to make a robot. They had hoped it would spit out the gum, but couldn't get that to happen, they said as they vigorously chomped several pieces of Bazooka Bubble Gum.




Ayanna Worley, a 10-year-old from Mount Rainer, Md., made a purse out of an old denim skirt. After sewing the pieces together, she glued on colored stars. Ayanna said she plans to use the purse when she goes out.




Khadijah Givs likes purses, too, and made several &

out of duct tape. "It's cheap, it's easy, and it's fun for a kid to do," said Khadijah, 13, of Forestville, Md. "You don't have to go to the store. It's something you already have at your house."




Maya June, David Parrish and Dionte Myles &

ages 10, 12 and 9 &

worked on their robot for two weeks. It had a computer keyboard for a chest, an ice tray for a stomach, a broken phone for a mouth and pieces of speakers for ears. It also had wheels, so it could move.




Bethesda, Md., siblings Hyunjun and Hyunjin Kim, 13 and 11, created a work of art. They attached a compact disc to a water bottle, hung wine corks from it and glued on a piece of glass. "We used trash to make something decorative," Hyunjun said.




Volunteers judged each invention based on creativity, attention to detail and amount of recycled materials used.




The Thingamajig Invention Convention has grown over the years. It started with about 130 inventors. Janice Williams, a longtime YMCA worker, said it's a way for "kids to be kids and also have fun in their learning."