From time to time, my job requires some travel in order to run my experiments and this week I found myself in Houston, TX, yet again. Upon entering the dinning room of my hotel for breakfast I spotted a 17 year old boy with a Rubik’s cube. Knowing the USA Science and Engineering Festival has a “You CAN do the Rubik’s cube” competition I wondered if this young man was aware of this competition. I was itching to ask him a hundred questions but my internal investigative reporter suddenly went shy as he was sitting with his Mom and a few other peers and I quickly realized they were all speaking French. But as the gaggle of teenagers exited the dining room, the Mom was left behind and I saw an opportunity to see if they were aware of the USA Science and Engineering Festival and the Rubik’s cube competition.
Um…hi…is that your son with the Rubik’s cube? Is he entered in any kind of competition?
I quickly piqued this woman’s curiosity about the Rubik’s cube and this idea of a national competition. She asked me a few questions and I wrote down the Festival’s website for her so that she could pass that on to her son. She was surprised to find out that there were competitions. She leaned in and proudly bragged: He’s really good at it.
I explained how many teachers were using the Rubik’s cube to teach different math concepts and that there were people out there who were ‘speedcubers’ and could solve the puzzle in as little as 10 seconds. Here eyes grew a bit wide in disbelief.
One of the fundamental take home messages about learning how to solve the Rubik’s cube isn’t just about the process of how to solve it, but kids learning that with practice and perseverance they CAN learn to solve the cube and learn some cool math concepts in the process. Here is a great article about the rise of Rubik’s cube competitions, but what I love the most from this article is this video:
I think one of the greatest things that the Rubik’s cube can teach students is that something that is seemingly difficult, like a Rubik’s cube, is possible to solve with patience and perseverance. And one of the great results is that feeling of accomplishment that comes with a new skill. Here is also another great article that also touches on how to use encouraging language with kids to keep them persevering in their learning.
Back to practicing for me!
Have you signed up for the USA Science and Engineering Festival’s You CAN do the Rubik’s cube competition?? Find out more here on how to sign up! Hurry! Don’t wait.