Richland One students show off puzzle-solving skills

Allen Wallace photos.

An estimated 400 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold since the toy’s international debut in 1980, and many, many of those cubes have been left unsolved after their owners surrendered in frustration. However, in Richland County, middle and high school students are making it look easy.

Saturday morning, Richland One students competed in the school district’s first-ever “speedcubing” competition, produced by EngenuitySC and hosted by Hopkins Middle School.

The event was made possible in part by Rubik’s “You CAN Do The Rubik’s Cube” outreach program. Bringing the program to Richland One was an idea pitched by the team at EngenuitySC, a nonprofit that provides logistical support, connections with the private sector and more for selected STEAM programming within the district.

The mission of the “You CAN Do The Rubik’s Cube” program is to provide resources to schools to promote STEAM standards and other skills using the Rubik’s Cube in both classroom and after-school settings.

“Programs like Rubik’s speedcubing build foundational skills in algebraic thinking that can lead to later success in engineering and computer science,” said Meghan Hickman, executive director of EngenuitySC. “All the while, the kids are having a ton of fun.” The kids present on Saturday agreed.

“It is very fun being here and solving the cubes with people who know how to do it too,” said Rebecca Weston, a sixth grader at Crayton Middle School. “I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself, but my friend helped me with it and I eventually learned how to do it and now I’m here.”

Rebecca, who started with the Cube just a few months ago, can now solve it in less than 90 seconds.

The students competed as individuals and in school teams Saturday. The team competition goal was for the teams to combine to solve 25 cubes as quickly as possible.

After only two months of practice, Richland One’s current record for fastest individual solve in practice is 56 seconds, held by a student at Hopkins Middle School. The world record for solving in competition is 4.22 seconds.

“I’m still encouraging them to go forward,” said Dr. Sharon Newton, the Hopkins middle school Rubik’s Cube club sponsor. “They’re having fun as well as competing, and I want to make sure they have fun at the end of the day.”

More information on the program is available at youcandothecube.com.

Categories: Education, Richland County

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