Brain teasers

OMSI is a great place to spend a few hours on a rainy day, which is what the kids and I did this weekend. My Dad was in town, so we knew we’d have to go somewhere and do something. As we headed back downstairs from the Science Playground, we saw this little exhibit hidden under the escalators called Brain Teasers. While my 2 year old was busy playing with a puzzle that involved nails (no, they weren’t that sharp) and my 5 year old was trying to figure out how to get a hen, a bag of grain, a fox and a farmer safely across a river, my father spent some time on this:

The object, as you can see from the sign, is to make a capital “T” using the pieces to fill in the outline. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. So as I wandered over to help with the nails and the river, my Dad pondered this one for a few minutes. He’s an architect, so he has a good sense of spatial relations and how things fit together… but this was different. The brain teasers are great from this perspective. There are constraints to work within, and those constraints are exactly what force you to think in different ways, to solve problems from different angles, and to abstract the challenge in a way that allows your brain to reinterpret the data to come up with a solution.

Exactly the same way we should approach design and interactive projects. Here’s what it needs to do, now how can you think about the problem in a different way to create an unexpected, yet “correct” solution?

I want to get a set of these Brain Teasers for the office and start meetings with them. And have clients do them as well. Once you see the solution, you say, “of course!” but until you do, it’s an addictive puzzle. Well, addictive for those of us who like these kinds of challenges. For others, probably quite frustrating.

Want to see the solution? If not, stop scrolling now, otherwise…

Way to go, Dad!

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