Meffert’s Puzzles

By Dr. Christoph Bandelow

I like the Puzzles very, very much; I'm really crazy about these puzzles, especially the very new one: the Meffert's Challenge Puzzle Balls.

There are many reasons for this. The first reason is that these puzzles resemble so much of our real world. There is the same subtle mixture of order and chaos in these puzzles as in our real world. And if you try to change one part of the puzzle it effects many other parts simultaneously: It is like the Pinatubo volcano erupting in the Philippines changing the weather in the USA.

Secondly you learn how to break a large problem into many small pieces and then solve them, one by one by thinking logically. You can even explain some difficult mathematical theories using the Puzzle Ball. In my University in Germany, I often give a complete mathematical lecture with the Puzzle Ball in my hand and the students love this colorful illustration of an abstract theory.

Thirdly, there are many striking analogies between the Puzzle ball and some fundamental principles in Science. For instance: the structure of the Puzzle ball is exactly the same as the structure of a carbon hydrogen molecule. In the meantime we have disassembled the Puzzle ball to show the relation to the carbon hydrogen molecule in detail. Carbon hydrogen molecules are the central building blocks of all living material: One carbon atom in the center and four outer hydrogen atoms. The angles are all the same. There is no right angle (90 deg.), but the angles are all the same. Children learn 3-dimensional thinking this way.

On the other hand, there are also fantastic analogies to our macro cosmos. The Puzzle Ball is very similar to our solar system: The squares and triangles of the Puzzle Ball rotate around the center and around their own axes at different speeds like the planets orbit around the sun and rotate around their own axis at the same time.

If one applies the same sequence of moves again and again the Puzzle Ball will always automatically return to the original starting position like a comet in our solar system. Children who play with the Puzzle Ball learn to think clearly and logically. This is the best preparation for life in our stressy high tech computer age.

*Dr. Christoph Bandelow is the world's leading expert on mathematical puzzles, he is the senior lecturer at the Ruhr University Mathematics Department, Germany's largest University.*