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Rubik's Cube Goes Educational
April 4, 2012

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The Rubik's Cube is making a comeback, again.

The celebrated multi-colored invention that inspired a couple generations of quick-fingered tactile problem-solvers is at the heart of a new math-learning program titled You CAN Do the Rubik's Cube. Seven Towns, a U.K. company that sells the Cube, has created downloadable lesson plans and competition sets for educational use.

Students and teachers are encouraged to use the cube to increase their skills in creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and spatial reasoning. More than 1,600 schools across America are participating in the program, which has partners in Odyssey of the Mind, MathWorks, MATHCOUNTS, Science Buddies, Mathmnasium, and several science festivals across the country. At the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which took place on the National Mall in the nation's capital, a team of students won $1,000 for being the fastest to solve 25 Cubes.

The program's website has guidelines for incorporating the Cube into math and science lessons; putting on competitions locally and regionally; and, in a melding of math and art skills, create a mosaic using the various colors on a selection of cubes.

The Rubik's Cube was invented by Erno Rubik of Hungary in the mid-1970s and became a hit in the 1980s, when millions of people all over the world bought the tiny toy and tried to solve it without driving themselves crazy in the process.

In 2010, a team of researchers used Google's computers to determine that the minimum number of moves to solve a Cube is 20. That's when a computer does it, though. A human problem-solver takes about 40.

The Rubik's Cube continues to be popular with people of all ages and continues to be the focus of competitions around the world. The current world record for solving a Cube is 5.66 seconds, set in 2011.

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