When was the last time you just ... played?

No, not competed to win, say, a cutthroat game of Scrabble, or stayed up all night trying to get to the next level of some video game.

When was the last time you just let your inhibitions melt away, flexed your imagination, and did something just because it was really, really fun?


Something like ... jumping into a giant ball pit.

Like this one! Photo by Jeremy Keith/Flickr.

Jump In!, a ball pit for adults, will be opening soon at the Manchester Science Festival.

Masterminded by the folks over at Pearlfisher, a design studio based in New York and London, Jump In! has made its way all over the world, with stops in Europe and the United States.

The pit, which holds about 81,00 white balls — enough to keep about 30 adults entertained at once — will be open to both visitors looking to splash around and businesses who want to hold meetings in the pool of pearly white orbs. Yep, you read that right.

The thesis of the installation is simple: Play matters, and we're never too old to reap the benefits of letting loose.

Check out these amazingly fun pictures of Jump In! in action, along with some scientifically verified reasons that we all need to make more time to goof around.

1. Play is a great way to get to know new people on a deep level.

All photos by Pearlfisher, used with permission.

2. It's a wonderful way for couples to reconnect with one another and explore other forms of emotional intimacy.

3. A little more play in your life can make you a lot less stressed out.

4. Plus, it can help boost your creativity and imagination.

5. Playing makes you feel young and alive! In other words, it gives you more energy.

6. Oh, and while you're having fun, you're also either learning or improving on key social skills.

7. Like teamwork! Playing teaches you how to effectively "negotiate" with other people.

8. Surprisingly, getting in a little playtime can help you find new ways to solve tough problems.

9. And, you guessed it, not enough play time can be a really bad thing for both kids and adults.

10. Remember this one important aspect of true play that's not present in a lot of adult games and competitions: It's OK to fail.

11. Finally, play doesn't just mean games. It can also take the form of building something for fun, coloring, or writing a song, for example.

If you can't make it to the Manchester Science Festival, don't worry. There will always be plenty of opportunities to play.

New games and stories are all around us, just waiting to be made up.

Not sure where to start? Just watch what kids do. They'll be happy to show you how it's done.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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