Repeat or you’re obsolete

Teen inventor Zach Levins wants to put your memory to the test

By B. Collins

BrainChildRepeatA funny thing happened to Zach Levins on the way to learning a new word a couple of years ago – he invented a board game that also reportedly boosts your memory.

A teacher introduced Zach, then 13, to the word “obsolete,” meaning no longer in general use or fallen into disuse.

He tumbled that word over in his head, tinkering with words that rhymed. He hit on “repeat,” which the dictionary tells us means to say or state something again.

From these intellectual gymnastics emerged the phrase “repeat or you’re obsolete.”

“I thought that would be a cool name for board game,” Zach, now 15, says. “I came up with the name before the concept of the game.”

Fun fact. Zach Levins, 15, lives in Connecticut. He aspires to play professional baseball. If that doesn’t work out, he’s thinking about a career in advertising.

Sort of a backward way to arrive at a commercialized product. The game, the first Zach has invented, is available through and other online retailers. It debuted last year and retails for $19.99.

How’s it played?

Players make noises, act things out, create stories, make lists and generally play with words in this fast-paced, memory building, pay-attention-or-you’re-out game. One variation requires players to pantomime certain acts, adding elements to each act. If you forget an element, you lose a game piece.

Another version requires a player to start play with a word. Each player adds a word. Players who fail to remember the build-up of words lose.

In addition to exercising memory muscles, the game can help improve concentration and improvisational skills.

The game, commercialized in a joint venture through youth product-development company By Kids For Kids and youth product maker innovativeKids, includes a 32-page bonus book of memory tips and tricks.

“The more I played the game,” says Zach, “the better my memory got.”

Repeat or you’re obsolete was named one of the best products of 2008 by iParenting Media, and won the 2008 Best Children’s Product Award by the National Parents Publications Awards (NAPPA) in association with

“Zach is another great example of the boundless creativity of kids,” says Norman Goldstein, founder and CEO of By Kids For Kids. “He has invented a fun and engaging game for all ages.”

Zach also possesses a developed sense of humor.

“Try this product and your memory will improve – I guarantee it,” he says. “And if it doesn’t, you won’t remember that I guaranteed it anyway.”

ob·so·lete no longer in use or no longer useful; of a kind or style no longer current

Pronunciation: ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌ

Function: adjective

Etymology: Latin obsoletus, from past participle of obsolescere to grow old, become disused, perhaps from ob- toward + solēre to be accustomed

Date: 1579

re·peat to say or state again; to say over from memory;

Pronunciation: ri-ˈpēt

Function: verb

Etymology: Middle English repeten, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French repeter, from Old French, from Latin repetere to return to, repeat, from re- + petere to go to, seek

Date: 14th century

Source: Merriam-Webster