A Game That Transcends Words

Fifteen years ago Erich Jonas created a game that has been met with an unusual amount of success. According to Daily Inter Lake.com, it all started when Jonas spun an egg-shaped rock on a bar table. From there is became the Egg Game.

“We started bumping the table back and forth then we discovered we could pick up the table and swing it back and forth,” he said. “I was a student studying engineering and anthropology at Vanderbilt University at the time.”

It occurred to Jonas that he and his friends had discovered a new game.

As he spun the concept in his mind, he saw greater implications of the spinning egg as a metaphor for the spinning earth, a concrete expression of abstract physics concepts and a communication bridge between cultural divides.

Now, with the game played in 14 nations and 3,000 classrooms, his concept sounds more inspired than hare-brained. It turns out that spinning a rock on a board actually does transcend languages and cultures and helps students grasp core scientific concepts.

Jonas did not find success overnight. He found instead a lot of frustration during his early years.

According to Jonas, the major toy companies – Hasbro, Wham-O and Mattel – saw the potential. But all passed on picking up his game, teaching Jonas another of those large lessons.

“It’s not a game if you have no winners and losers – they said it’s an activity,” he said. “Our whole society is based on that concept.”

He learned the lesson but was not discouraged.

Jonas began taking his game to Montessori School conferences. The interactive nature of the game formed a perfect fit with the educational practices and ovoid theories of founder Maria Montessori.

“The educational community instantly welcomed me,” he said. “In five years, we were in 500 Montessori Schools.”

Photo by Steve Johnson

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