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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

This exercise improves your ability to create vivid and accurate visual images.

Find a nearby object and stare at it for a few seconds. Now close your eyes and notice that there is an afterimage of the object that fades after a few seconds. Try to turn this afterimage into a visualization and retain it in your mind when the afterimage fades. Open your eyes and look at the object again. You will notice things that you didn't see before. Close your eyes and try to visualize the object again and incorporate the details that you missed the first time. Repeat this process until you are able to retain a clear image of the object in your mind for several seconds after the afterimage fades. With practice you will be able to create detailed images in your mind from any object that you see.

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Engineering challenges are fun activities that are frequently assigned to students in physics or engineering classes, but they can easily be used outside of these venues. An engineering challenge usually has a simple goal and some rules about what sorts of materials you are allowed to use. These are great ways to get people thinking creatively and to foster teamwork and competition. Try an engineering challenge at a birthday party, office outing, scout meeting, or any other gathering where you want to have fun and exercise your creativity.

The Spaghetti Cantilever challenge is a fun one. Each team is given a small package of spaghetti, a roll of tape and a table. The objective is to construct a cantilevered structure that extends as far from the table as possible without touching the ground. The structure must be attached to the top of the table and nowhere else. Because spaghetti is very brittle, the engineering becomes very important. Measurements should be taken from the edge of the table to the furthest point of the spaghetti structure.

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Fix your vision on a nearby stationary object. Without moving your eyes, become aware of what is in your peripheral vision. Notice how things get fuzzier the further they are from the center. Now, close your eyes and try to recreate the scene from memory. Try to get a vivid image. Then, if you want you can draw it.

This visual exercise will help you become aware of the things that you do not normally see. It also helps improve your ability to reconstruct things in your mind's eye. Visual skills are an important part of creativity.

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Close your eyes and try to recreate the following smells. This exercise helps improve your ability to form concrete impressions from memory, an ability that is one characteristic of creative people.

1. Brussel sprouts
2. A banana
3. Gasoline
4. Pencil shavings
5. Stinky socks

How well did you do at recreating the smells? How long did it take for each smell? Rank your recreation on a scale of 1-10 to how close it was to a real smell. Try to continuously improve.

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Engineering challenges are fun activities that are frequently assigned to students in physics or engineering classes, but they can easily be used outside of these venues. An engineering challenge usually has a simple goal and some rules about what sorts of materials you are allowed to use. These are great ways to get people thinking creatively and to foster teamwork and competition. Try an engineering challenge at a birthday party, office outing, scout meeting, or any other gathering where you want to have fun and exercise your creativity.

The objective in the Kite challenge is to construct a kite out of a sheet of paper, plastic drinking straws and tape. The winning kite will be the one to reach the highest altitude with a fixed length of string. If you don't have a windy place nearby, you can allow the contestants to run with the kite to simulate wind. To measure altitude, a simple angle altimeter can be purchased at many hobby stores, or you can create your own with a protractor, string and a small weight.

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