Saturday, September 25, 2021

Service learning hours lead to a Rubik’s Cube club


Two students at Middletown High School in Maryland started a Rubik’s Cube club at a local elementary school last year, and it has taken root, the Frederick News-Post reports.

A standard 3 × 3 × 3 Rubik’s Cube, almost solved

Dawson Tan, a senior at the high school, and his friend John Horine needed service hours as a graduation requirement. Last year they went to Myersville Elementary School and found that even kindergartners were interested in joining the Rubik’s Cube club they had created. This year, with the service hours in the bank, they run the club just for fun.

Using just muscle memory, Mr Tan said he can solve a Rubik’s Cube in about 13 seconds, which may not be a record but is still pretty fast among smart high school students.

Patrick Walsh, who graduated last year from Lancaster Catholic High School in Pennsylvania, is now at Cornell University on a scholarship he won as one of 2,500 National Merit Scholars. He can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 30 seconds, the Intelligencer Journal reported.

Mr Tan told the News-Post his solution time of 13 seconds for the puzzle was “not even that good,” at least compared to the records that have been set since about eight years after Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor ErnÅ‘ Rubik invented the “Magic Cube.”

The current record belongs to Lucas Etter, 14, a student from Kentucky who solved a standard Rubik’s Cube in 4.904 seconds in November at a competition in Clarksville, Maryland.

In reference to Mr Tan’s time not being all that fast, we dutifully point out that up until last month, the record has always been above 5 seconds.

The first record for solving a standard Rubik’s Cube, set in West Germany in 1982, was 19 seconds. Times have slowly fallen over the years but first dropped below 10 seconds only in 2007, when Thibaut Jacquinot from France solved it at the Spanish Open.

Algorithms, finite limits, and more club ideas

As any “speed cuber” knows, it’s possible to solve a standard Rubik’s Cube in about 20 turns. The fastest robot to do this accomplished the task in under 3 seconds, so that would seem to be the limit of human achievement for this record, which is ultimately finite.

Two university students from La Jolla, California, have built a robotics kit, which middle and high school students can use as part of an engineering or technology project to solve a Rubik’s Cube, the States News Service reported last year.

The robot known as Ruku Robot is the brainchild of Daryl Stimm and William Mutterspaugh, who study engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

“We built it to be the perfect robotics kit for any STEM classroom,” the news service quoted Mr Stimm as saying, referring to school programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “It’s a fun, interactive teaching tool for every school’s STEM workshop or after-school STEM program. Our robot is a great way for kids to involved.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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