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A boy was playing with his bouncy ball in the forest, far from home and with no one around. Suddenly and without warning, his bouncy ball fell into a cement hole, about 1 foot down, and too tight for him to reach. The boy checked his pockets, and all he had was a piece of tape, a short 3-inch piece of string, and a normal-sized pencil.

How does the boy get his bouncy ball out of the hole in the forest?

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  • $\begingroup$ How long is the pencil? $\endgroup$ – Embodiment of Ignorance Feb 3 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @EmbodimentofIgnorance It's a normal sized pencil. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Feb 3 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ How wide is the hole? $\endgroup$ – QuantumTwinkie Feb 3 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ @QuantumTwinkie The hole is wide enough for the bouncy ball to fit in, but too tight for the boy to reach his hand in. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Feb 3 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ Why is there a cement hole in a forest? $\endgroup$ – Elpharya Feb 4 at 20:33
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A juvenile answer, but based on past experience

He pees into the hole until ball floats to the top

My answer has the added benefit not having to use the piece of tape, the piece of string or the normal-sized pencil.

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully he had rot13(n shyy rabhtu oynqqre) $\endgroup$ – Elpharya Feb 5 at 1:14
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Most bouncy balls that I've run across

can float on water. Thus, if it has rained recently, he could find a puddle nearby, and scoop handfuls of water into the hole. Since the hole's so small, it would only take a dozen or so handfuls to float the ball to the top.

Alternatively,

He could grab a somewhat flexible stick, and pound it with a rock until it split at the end. Depending on the nature of the surface of the ball, he could put the stick in the hole and wedge the ball into the split.

Is this what you're looking for? @Riddler

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The boy could find a stick with which he can manipulate the ball at the bottom of the hole. He could then add small amounts of dirt or debris to the hole, using the stick to keep the ball from becoming buried. Eventually, the hole will be nearly filled, and the ball will be within easy reach.

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  • $\begingroup$ Assuming he...well...had the necessary content. $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Feb 4 at 20:16
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He could,

Break a stick off of a forest tree and add the tape to the end. Then he could put the stick down the hole and stick the ball with the tape and bring it up.

Or,

He could use a tree branch/stick to pop the ball, them pull it up with the same stick. Then he could re-inflate the ball and put tape on the hole.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, plausible, but I doubt it could be done in practice with just a piece of tape, which is unlikely to be strong enough to either stick to the stick or hold the ball... $\endgroup$ – Riddler Feb 3 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ Ok with your additional info, you at least get an upvote for effort :) $\endgroup$ – Riddler Feb 5 at 0:13
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If he

tied a heavy and relatively dull rock to the end of a (longer than 1-foot long) stick with the string and tape, he could drop the stick into the hole with the rock facing down to bounce the ball. If the ball doesn't come out on the first bounce, he could listen for the ball to bounce on the ground and guess when the ball will land. Knowing this, he could then throw the stick down with extra force and make both the ball and the stick bounce higher on the next bounce of the ball until the ball is within grabbing range (which I assume is outside of the hole). The problem with this solution is that the ball may break if the stone is too heavy or the boy throws the stick down too hard.

This solution relies on the fact that the ball is relatively solid rubber. I can't really imagine an inflated ball being smaller than the width of a child's hand or arm.

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