The Puzzling Impact of Ernő Rubik

For the past eight months there has been a constant click heard in my home. At the dinner table, while driving in the car, and even late at night when I am beginning to drift off to sleep, I can hear the subtle sounds of my son cubing. Cubing has become one of his passion projects and he spends every waking moment with a puzzle in his hands.

The Puzzling Impact of Erno Rubik @EvaVarga.netI had given him a traditional Rubik’s Cube a few years ago for Christmas but once it was scrambled, it sat in the corner of his bookshelf collecting dust. That was until he stumbled upon a recommended video on his YouTube feed of Collin Burns’ 5.25 world record solve. That was all it took. He was hooked.

As it is always in his hand, he gains a lot of attention and notoriety. He is now recognized around our community as the fastest cuber. Kids and adults alike bring him cubes that they “messed up” for him to solve.

His best solve time for the 3×3 is presently 7.22 seconds. He averages 13.09. Yet the 3×3 is not the only puzzle he enjoys. He also competes in 2×2, 4×4, 5×5, Megaminx, Pyraminx, and Skewb.

The Puzzling Impact of Erno Rubik @EvaVarga.netBiography

Ernő Rubik was born during World War II in Budapest, Hungary on the 13th of July 1944. His father, Ernő Rubik Sr., was a flight engineer at the Esztergom aircraft factory and a highly respected engineer of gliders. His mother, Magdolna Szántó, was a poet.

While Rubik has stated in almost every interview that he got his inspiration from his father, he also considers university and the education it afforded him as the decisive event which shaped his life. From 1958 to 1962, Rubik specialised in sculpture at the Secondary School of Fine and Applied Arts and later attended the Budapest University of Technology where he became a member of the faculty upon graduation.

“Schools offered me the opportunity to acquire knowledge of subjects or rather crafts that need a lot of practice, persistence and diligence with the direction of a mentor.”

In the 1970s, Rubik was a professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts. It was during this time that he invented the Rubik’s Cube. The cube was originally designed to help Mr. Rubik explain spatial relationship to a class that he taught at the time. He soon realized the potential of the cube and began to get the cube mass produced, applying for a patent in 1975.

It was quickly a huge success. The cube was originally called ‘Magic Cube’ but after some discussion the name was changed to what it is known for today, Rubik’s Cube. In an interview with CNN, Rubik stated;

Space always intrigued me, with its incredibly rich possibilities, space alteration by (architectural) objects, objects’ transformation in space (sculpture, design), movement in space and in time, their correlation, their repercussion on mankind, the relation between man and space, the object and time. I think the CUBE arose from this interest, from this search for expression and for this always more increased acuteness of these thoughts…

In the nearly forty years the cube has been around, over three hundred and fifty million copies have been produced. Yet, only about 1.25% of the people who have purchased the cube can actually solve it.

The Puzzling Impact of Erno Rubik @EvaVarga.netErnő Rubik witnessed his creation blow up around the world. The cube became the Toy of the Year twice in a row, and the first world championship for The Rubik’s Cube was in 1982. At this competition the first world record was set at 22.95 seconds. Nowadays that is what most cubers average.

Today, there are a variety of speed cubes available on the market. Each is designed to turn faster and more efficiently without the lockups or pops that speed cubers abhor. The current 3×3 record is 4.737 seconds held by a 19 year old from Australia, Feliks Zemdegs.

Bring it Home

Learn to solve the original 3×3 puzzle using online tutorials; there are many to choose from.

Challenge yourself to get faster or learn to solve another puzzle type.

Visit the World Cube Association and find a competition near you to see what it is all about.

Science Milestones

Visit my Science Milestones page to learn more about scientists whose discoveries and advancements have made a significant difference in our lives or who have advanced our understanding of the world around us.

The bloggers of the iHomeschool Network have teamed up to create fun and original unit studies on fascinating people who were born in July.

Challenge Middle Schoolers with these Classic Toys

As parents of middle school age children, I am sure you have long been aware that the toys that we choose to buy for our kids can make a difference in their development. Being presented opportunities to see, play with, and experience specific materials present different challenges, require different skill sets, and cover a variety of different learning areas.

Classic Toys to Challenge Middle Schoolers

Educational toys encourage specific learning areas such as literacy, math, science, and music. Games and puzzles teach strategic thinking skills and encourage laughter and social awareness. They also bring family and friends together to make wonderful memories that will last for years to come.

I love classic toys for many reasons. One of things that I have discovered is that these timeless classics continue to captivate people of all ages.

Challenge Middle Schoolers with these Classic Toys @EvaVarga.netThe Amazing World of YoYoing by Erik Everson, age 13

One amazing hobby (and potential) profession is yo-yoing. There’re all sorts of variations and styles. The five main styles are:

1) String Tricks
2) Looping
3) Two-handed String Tricks
4) Off String
5) Freehand

String Tricks is the most popular style and the style I will focus on today. What makes it so unique you ask? These aren’t traditional yo-yos that most people grew up with. These are known as non-responsive yo-yos, which means they do not come up with the tug on the string. The ones that come up with a tug on the string are called responsive yoyo’s.

What makes yo-yos that are non-responsive so unique is the string can touch the yoyo in many more variations without accidentally coming back up to the hand. This makes your trick variation possibilities expand so much more.

Well then, how do you get it back up, you ask? The basic way to get the yoyo back up is to put a layer of string into the yoyo. Most of the time this trick is called “the bind”. If you’d like to see this performed, search on YouTube under, “How to Bind with a Yo-Yo”.

Competitions happen around the world. It’s amazing to see how many people are have taken up this hobby/profession. If you’d like to see some amazing performances of String Tricks here are some names to look up: Gentry Stein, Zack Gormley, Paul Kerbel, and Brandon Vu. These are just some of the many amazing yo-yoers.

In conclusion if you decide to join me on this amazing journey you’ll have the time of your life. Remember not to take it too seriously, it’s yo-yoing.

Challenge Middle Schoolers with these Classic Toys @EvaVarga.netCubing with Pizzazz by Jeffrey Varga, age 11

I first discovered the Rubix Cube in 2014 when I received a classic cube in my Christmas stocking. I played around with it a bit over the holidays but I never got further than solving the green side so I gave up. My parents told me that was far as they ever got, too.

I didn’t think too much about it until several months later when I saw a video on YouTube where someone solved it in under 30 seconds. I thought to myself, That’s cool. I want to to be able to solve the puzzle like that. So I searched for ‘how to solve’ videos on YouTube and began to practice the algorithm.

There are 43 quintillion possibilities, but only one correct solution. Knowing how to solve a Rubik’s Cube it is nearly impossible without a little help. When it comes to solving the Rubik’s Cube, t is really simple, you just have to follow the steps and you will be solving the Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes (yes, that quickly!).

I am now a cuber and my best time is 21 seconds. I can also solve the 2×2, Pyramix, and 3×3 Cuboid Shape Shifter (pictured above). My favorite cube is the 3×3 MoYu HuaLong because it feels like butter when you turn it.

Challenge Middle Schoolers with these Classic Toys @EvaVarga.netLego

The history of Lego spans nearly 100 years, beginning with the creation of small wooden toys in the early 20th century. Manufacturing of plastic Lego bricks began in Denmark in 1947, but since has grown to include factories throughout the world. Today, the company is an iconic brand.

Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the word “lego” is derived from the Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. The word “lego” also means “I put together” in Latin, and “I connect” in Italian.

For decades, Legos were mostly something kids played with and adults stepped on barefoot in the dark. The Lego universe has been expanding rapidly in recent years, however, with the opening of colorful retail stores, a continuous stream of specialty parts, architecture and city sets, and alliances with the “Star Wars” franchise (amongst others).

Clearly something has clicked — Lego recently became the world’s biggest toymaker. With the popularity of the Lego Movie, it is of no wonder that many teens and preteens are jumping into the foray and trying their own hand at Stopmotion videos.

Playmobil 

In 1974, Horst Brandstätter introduced the iconic Playmobil plastic figurines and toy sets to the market. They are now a staple in kids’ rooms in around the world. The simplicity of the figurines stimulates the children’s imagination and creativity.

The Playmobil brand is typically thought of a toy for younger children, like Lego, the simplicity of the figurines and the variety of sets makes it a wonderful resource for their Stopmotion videos..

fischertechnikFischertechnik

Fischertechnik is another German brand with a strong presence in the toy market. The company’s toys are used in education to teach about simple machines, as well as motorization and mechanisms. The company also offers computer interface technology, which can be used to learn the theory of automation and robotics.

The company first began as a fastener manufacturer, but in 1965, Artur Fischer invented a building block system for a toy set initially intended as a Christmas novelty gift for engineers. The construction toy’s popularity took off and soon hit the shelves in toy stores across Germany and later the world.

Fischertechnik’s success even pushed Lego to introduce its own line of educational toys at the end of the 1970s. The new division “Lego Technic” included gears, axles, pins, and beams in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of traditional Lego sets. These popular building sets provide hands-on experience with simple machines and engineering concepts. With the STEM II kits, kids can even learn computer programming.

Challenge Middle Schoolers with these Classic Toys @EvaVarga.netMy Little Pony

Originally a favorite amongst little girls, the revamped incarnation of the “My Little Pony” franchise has drawn a cult following of teenagers and even grown men. The Pony world includes art, video games, music, T-shirts, and fan fiction — created by fans and based loosely on the canon but jumping off in unorthodox directions.

It wasn’t long before my teen daughter mentioned that she was devoted to the My Little Pony TV show, which airs on Discovery Family. The truth is she more than mentioned it. She watches it all the time, racing through her homework to catch an episode before bed. She has even created several OCs (original characters).

Linking up at Junior High Junction