Thingamakids: Oakland students make music from scratch

Thingamajigs, an Oakland-based organization founded in 2004 to champion music made with found materials, teaches younger students to build musical instruments from scratch in a project they call Thingamakids. In the last week of October, David Samas, a teaching artist with Thingamajigs, taught a weeklong workshop at charter school East Bay Innovation Academy on “sound engineering,” where students learned about physics, design, and mathematics by making their own instruments and learning about how they make sound.

As engineering and technical jobs continue to be in demand, more schools have prioritized a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Now, projects like Thingamakids are trying to connect technical skills with students’ creative, artistic sides. Supporters of the trend add “art” in the middle of STEM, and call it STEAM.

“I want them to really take away that spirit of innovation. To look at an object and perhaps it’s built for one specific purpose, but to always say what else can this object do?” said Thingamajigs Co-Founder and Executive Director Edward Schocker. “I think if they have that, no matter what industry they go into, whether it’s tech or science, they’re gonna have these as life-long learning skills.”

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