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Students Learn To Solve Rubik's Cube

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Last year, after a few of his middle school students asked about it, MOBOCES science teacher Ben Ouderkirk brought in a Rubik’s Cube to his class. Using YouTube tutorials, Ouderkirk taught himself how to solve the cube and then taught several of his students how to do it.

And so began the Rubik’s craze in the MOBOCES middle school.

“Right now, we’re up to nine students who can solve it,” Ouderkirk said. “It’s become a pretty big event. It’s a lot of fun.”

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In addition to the students, Ouderkirk taught his colleague, middle school math teacher Marci Magnanti, how to solve it and she is also now helping middle school students figure it out. Students who do solve it receive their own Rubik’s Cube, a candy bar and a soda, courtesy of Ouderkirk – and, of course, their name on the Rubik’s “Wall of Fame.”

If you didn’t know, there is a method to solving a Rubik’s Cube – one that is currently handwritten on Ouderkirk’s classroom whiteboard. But just because students have the answer in front of them doesn’t mean the challenge is easy. It took students about two to four weeks to solve a standard 3x3 cube from start to finish in one sitting.

Although he didn’t win a recent friendly race with two other students, eighth-grader Dakota does hold the class record at 43 seconds.

Ouderkirk said he uses it as an incentive for students – those who come to class, behave well and finish their work receive free time to use the Rubik’s. The classroom collection includes more than a dozen of varying shapes and sizes. Those who have already figured out the standard 3x3 solution work on non-traditional Rubik’s and figure out how to make different patterns.

Eighth-grader Daniel said the Rubik’s is an incentive. He, Dakota and several other students eat lunch in Ouderkirk’s room and have some extra time to practice.

“It is fun doing it after class,” Daniel said.

Even Ouderkirk, who has been interested in Rubik’s Cubes since college, finds the challenge fun.

“Once you learn one, you want to learn all of them,” he said.