Manifold: The Origami Mind Bender

Review

In an age of video games and noisy high-tech toys, Brainwright’s Manifold is a very rare find. I got truly delighted by the idea of folding little papers into origami, trying to achieve some easy to understand task. The goal is simple – you start with an 8×8 paper which has 16 black, 16 white, and 32 empty squares printed on its front. You must make several folds so that the paper ends up as a 4×4 piece with all black squares on one side and all white squares on the other.

For just about $10 I was able to get a set of 100 puzzles, many of them quite challenging, which translates into several hours of gameplay. The difficulty of the puzzles gradually increases, which makes Manifold appropriate for all ages. Despite my highly positive impressions, I have to point out several (minor) flaws. First, the glossy paper, despite its high quality, may not be the best choice for making origami. Second, there is too much space left at the edges of the papers, which may get in the way when one needs to make many folds in one puzzle. Finally, since the creases cannot be removed from the paper, most likely you won’t solve the puzzles more than once.

If you want to try some sample puzzles from the set before buying it, you can print them from this PAGE.

  • 1 player, 10 years and up
  • 100 challenges, 4 difficulty levels
  • origami-based puzzles
  • many hours of gameplay
  • the glossy paper makes it hard to fold
  • puzzles are likely to be discarded after being solved

GET MANIFOLD HERE

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Seeing Theory

Seeing Theory is a beautifully designed website, which aims to educate people about probability theory via series of visual and interactive lessons. If anyone is struggling to grasp some of the basic concepts in this field of mathematics or is just getting into it, the website can be a very useful learning tool. Seeing Theory was designed by Daniel Kunin as an undergraduate project in Brown University and has won numerous awards. To visit the website, click the banner below.

Joseph’s Machines

Joseph Herscher is a kinetic artist and a YouTube personality, who specializes in creating intricate Rude Goldberg machines out of everyday objects. Some of his most popular machines are “The Page Turner”“The Dresser”, and “The Cake Server” which you can see below. Joseph has been sharing his inventions on YouTube for more than 10 years, and you can explore all of them on his official channel. Who knows, maybe he will inspire you to start making fascinating Rude Goldberg machines as well!

Gravity Maze

Review

Gravity Maze is one of the most famous and accoladed products by ThinkFun. The premise of this unique puzzle/game is to create a 3D structure of blocks and tunnels which allows a small marble to travel the distance between two designated endpoints; one at the top of the structure, and one at the bottom.

Gravity Maze comes in a large box and includes a plastic 5×5 grid, 11 colorful blocks of varying sizes, 3 marbles, and 60 challenge cards. The blocks are composed of small cubes and contain short tunnels passing through them. They can be placed on the grid either horizontally or vertically, and can also fit each other, similarly to LEGO blocks. This allows the solver to design an extended system of tunnels, essentially creating a labyrinth for the marbles to travel through. The challenge cards are split into 5 groups by difficulty, ranging from simple beginner puzzles (involving just a few blocks) to expert puzzles (involving up to ten blocks). Solving each of the puzzles requires careful analysis of the given pieces and all the possible ways in which they can be combined. When the structure is completed, the solver must drop a marble into one of the pieces and watch it find its way to the destination. Testing whether the constructed solution works is arguably the best part of the puzzle and it is what makes Gravity Maze so much fun.

Even though the recommended age for Gravity Maze is 8 years and up, many of my academic friends enjoyed playing with it. I am sure that middle and high schoolers will like it even more.

  • 1 player, 8 years and up
  • 60 challenges with varying difficulty
  • unique and fun concept
  • finding the solution is very satisfying
  • the challenge cards are a bit flimsy

GET GRAVITY MAZE HERE

* This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small compensation if you make a purchase.

Penn and Teller: Fool Us

Here, at Puzzle Prime, we have been always fascinated by magic. We appreciate the amount of creativity it takes to design a magic trick, the immense talent required to execute it, and the many hours of practice needed to perfect it. As long-time fans of Penn and Teller, a few years ago, we were delighted to discover that these all-time greats have started their own TV show. “Fool Us”, soon to be running its fifth season, gathers some of the best magicians around the world and lets them perform in front of Penn and Teller, who are trying to figure out their secrets. To watch the show’s episodes, visit the CW network by clicking the banner below.

16 Personalities Test

Even though developing your analytical and problem-solving skills can help you succeed in life, your personality type also plays a large role in it. 16 Personalities Test is a quick and fun way to evaluate your character, and it is also based on some solid psychology theories. The test is totally free and takes just 10 minutes to complete. To find out whether you are a logician, an adventurer, or an advocate, click the banner below.

AutoDraw

Can you draw a brain in just 3 seconds? Probably not, at least unless you use some help from Google. AutoDraw by Google Creative Lab is an AI experiment, which lets you make a quick doodle, then tries to guess what it is, and complete it. It does not always work, but it keeps improving and is fun to play with. Also, it shows the powerful capabilities of machine learning. To try AutoDraw, just click that big orange brain below.

Mummy Mazes

Review

Creative expression, learning, and focusing are some of the most important activities children should be encouraged to practice from an early age. Driven by this idea, Elizabeth Carpenter has published several oversized books that give kids the opportunity to solve beautifully drawn line mazes, color them, and learn interesting trivia, all at once.

The Mummy Mazes Monumental Book contains 28 poster-size mazes based on Ancient Egypt themes, along with explanations about each of the included objects. The Dino Mazes Colossal Fossil Book contains 31 poster-size mazes, depicting various dinosaurs, accompanied by descriptions and quick facts about them. Recently, Elizabeth also published a Mandala Mazes book which is suitable for older people looking for fun and relaxing activities as well. In terms of difficulty, the Dino and the Mummy mazes seem to fall on the easier side, while the Mandala mazes are a bit more challenging. After being completed, the mazes can be detached and used as posters, even though we think they look best organized together.

All three books offer great quality and we would highly recommend them to any maze enthusiast.

  • 8 – 12 years, 4 – 6 grade
  • about 30 over-sized mazes per book
  • beautiful line mazes, suitable for coloring
  • mazes can be detached from the books
  • books include interesting trivia

GET ELIZABETH’S BOOKS HERE

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XKCD Comics

XKCD is one of the most successful comics online of all time. Marketed as a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”, it manages to poke fun at all of these in various highly creative ways. Due to its numerous STEM references, XKCD is appreciated especially by geek communities. You can see one of our favorite strips below, a clever joke about classic chess puzzles.

To get to the XKCD website, simply click the image below.