College senior turns Rice University dorm room into ball pit

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The computer engineering student wanted to keep a sense of fun and imagination (KTRK)

Bored with your bland, monochromatic room? Then do the obvious -- dump 13,000 plastic balls in there and create a ball pit!

Welcome to the dorm room of David Nichol, a Rice University computer engineering senior. He said he was inspired to do this by an XKCD comic strip called "Grownups," which encouraged people that adulthood is what you want it to be.

"Even if you're a grownup, I feel like you should be able to acknowledge that fun things are still fun," said Nichol. "Just because you're not seven doesn't mean you can't indulge in seven-year-old fun things."

So, Nichol decided to go for it.

According to Nichol, for around $500, he ordered the balls wholesale last August and finally got the crates this past November but not before running into issues with US Customs officials, who wanted to know what was being shipped to the US in 26 large boxes from China.

"Customs said, 'We want to make sure they're actually balls in here,' because it's kind of sketchy that someone is just ordering 13,000 balls," said Nichol.

After it cleared, Nichol, who went to high school in West University, started having so many people over, he had to create a rule sheet, which included taking shoes off and no eating in the pit. Rice University Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson had to follow those rules himself when he checked out the ball pit.

"This is fantastic. I love to see the creativity and the fun," said Hutchinson (mostly buried in the middle of the ball pit). "Life is pretty intense here at Rice. People work extremely hard and to have our students have an opportunity for a way to relax and to laugh and to have a good time is an extremely important part of the college experience."

With our shoes off, ABC13 videographer Mike Menchaca included, we tried juggling, trust falls, shooting hoops, and even napping... which didn't work because we kept sinking.

The possibilities were endless, much like the imagination Nichol said is so important to keep alive.

"The things that make me happy will always make me happy," said Nichol.

As for what Nichol will do with the balls after he graduates?

"When you have an idea you should just do it, not worry about what happens next, because if we worry about what happens next, we have to worry about what happens after that," said Nichol. "If we keep worrying, you'll never get to do the thing you want to in the first place, which is, I guess, a long way of saying 'I don't know.'"
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