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It didn't take long for this little magnet-globe to develop a cult following in our office. At first, it sat on a desk looking quite mysterious. Is it a new-age spherical puzzle? A chic conversation piece for a psychologist's coffee table? A ball that won't bounce?? It was almost like that enigmatic monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey", sleek and seemingly other-worldly.
Though we were pretty sure that extra-terrestrials had nothing to do with its appearance on Earth, the Ball of Whacks didn't make sense to us at first. Even the name of this red object didn't shed any more light. But after glancing through the chubby booklet that accompanied the ball, we learned that this was no ordinary toy.
It was a "creativity workshop" designed by the inventive Dr. Roger von Oech who specializes in teaching creative thinking. It is only natural that his brain-child would offer countless methods to create, meditate, and design - in the form of a "golden ratio" 30-sided rhombic triacontahedron. Hmm, try saying that three times fast...
We were skeptical. We weren't convinced that playing with this mathematically-inspired toy would be enlightening or even enjoyable. But then one daring co-worker took the plunge - he grasped the ball tightly, causing it to break into its 30 magnetic pieces. After picking up each piece, he tried to reunite them into the beautiful sphere that came out of the box. But it became clear that this wasn't necessary, that it would be more fun to connect these 180 rare-earth magnets in unexpected ways.
The end result? The Ball of Whacks became a wildly popular toy that we (mostly figuratively) wrestled over. From designing a stern-looking Batman to simply enjoying the feel of the magnetic pull between the pieces, each of us had developed a sort of special attachment to the Ball of Whacks. Turns out, all the hype was well deserved. Dr. von Oech's creation proved to be an exercise in creativity, a way to relax, and a chance to play like we were modernist designers.
Most of all, it was just a lot of fun. And if aliens really did jettison this Ball of Whacks from their spaceship, well, we heartily offer our thanks.
* Comes with a 96-page illustrated book that provides exercises for creative brainstorming and problem-solving
* Appropriate for ages 8 and above
Spilling the Beans:
The Ball of Whacks makes a great gift for a 3rd grader - or a business executive. Be forewarned: if you pick one up, you might just get addicted. Easy solution? Buy two.
WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.
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