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Fidget spinners like this one exploded in popularity this year at Holyoke schools and across the nation. —Johnson Publications

Craze has adults wondering, ‘What the heck is a fidget spinner?’

    As is the case with many fads among school-aged people, by the time the adults outside the realm of the school heard of fidget spinners, they already had teachers across the nation pulling out their hair.
    Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but teachers, coaches and others who work with youth have had a front-row seat to watch the craze grow. For everyone else, we took to the streets of Holyoke to find out what the big deal is.
    A fidget spinner is a toy, and you guessed it, it spins. They’re only about 3 inches across, and they’re made up of fairly simple parts, relying on ball bearings to function. (Click here to view a video!)
    Before 2017, fidget spinners were essentially unheard of. According to Google Trends, searches for “fidget spinners” were nonexistent in 2016, but in January of this year they began gaining momentum, peaking in mid-May. Local youth noticed the same trend, commenting that the toys appeared quite suddenly at school this year.
    Of course, people were already primed for the idea of fidget toys after a wildly successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign that began last August for a device called a fidget cube. The small cubes, only about an inch big feature switches, buttons, joysticks, dials and gears to give users something to do with their hands. The Denver-based campaign set a goal to raise $15,000, which was smashed after 154,926 people pledged almost $6.5 million, and the popularity of fidget toys took off.
    The kind of desk toys that have sat idly on math and science teachers’ desks for years are suddenly in vogue.
    It should come as no surprise that as fidget spinner sales skyrocketed, people began to search for ways to improve upon them. Kids said they have seen spinners that light up and look especially cool in action. They now come in any design imaginable, including camouflage, paint splattered, galaxy patterns, animal print and an American flag.
    Where the traditional spinner has three “wings,” there are some for sale with two, or without wings at all. Some glow in the dark, and others are metallic. There are even spinners that feature emojis.
    According to a handful of Holyoke students, everyone has a fidget spinner. Seriously, that’s what they all say — even the ones who don’t have fidget spinners themselves. If a student doesn’t have one of their own, it’s a safe bet that they have tried one out with a sibling or friend.

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