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MIT Better World

Simmons resident Patrick Liscio ’17 helped Spectrum piece together the answer.
The completed puzzle, comprised of 40,320 pieces and measuring 22 by 6 feet—one of the largest on the market—features scenes of famous Disney characters. According to Liscio, Simmons residents originally planned to work on sections of the puzzle during Independent Activities Period over the course of two or three years. Instead, 222 enthusiastic contributors assembled it in three months.

Keeping track of thousands of puzzle pieces wasn’t always easy—especially when a visiting puppy decided to “help.” Liscio recalls, “the GRT [graduate resident tutor] had to pull a half-eaten piece out of the dog’s mouth before we lost it completely. We had to spend a decent amount of time bending it back into shape just to fit it into the puzzle, but afterward, it was fun to play a game in which we challenged people to find the dog-chewed piece.”

What participants will remember long after the mangled puzzle piece has faded from memory, though, is the sense of community and feeling of accomplishment that the mega-puzzle inspired. “During the puzzle, I knew that I could always go down for a few hours, work for a while with a few of the regulars, and get the chance to talk to people from all parts of the community who would stop by and put in some pieces or just talk for a bit before leaving,” says Liscio.

Liscio has graduated, but hopes the puzzle tradition, or other projects like it, will continue. “I do think that it did a great job in bringing people together, and I think a lot of people really enjoyed working on it.”

Simmons residents are currently looking for a permanent location to display the puzzle.