Rubik's Cube

Solving a Rubik's cube is not easy on the first try, but there's actually a cool set of algorithms to help your child complete the puzzle.

Things you need

  • Rubik's cube

The challenge

Part 1: Encourage your child to solve a Rubik's cube without any assistance or understanding of the strategy behind solving it. How did they go?

Part 2: After they've had a red hot go, use the solution guide to explore how algebraic ideas can help you solve the puzzle with your child.

This activity will help your child or teen see just how connected maths is to puzzles and problem solving. In this case, solving the puzzle isn't down to luck and chance - it's maths!

The conversation

During part 1 of the activity, ask your child what's their strategy for solving the Rubik's cube. Do they have one? Are they trying to solve one coloured face at a time or several at once? Are they noticing any patterns? The main thing is not to worry if they can’t solve it, but to get your child thinking about the logic they're using to solve their problems.

During part 2 of the activity, after you've gone through the solution guides and solved the Rubik's cube, ask your child or teen:

  • "Are you surprised by the technique you've learned to solve the cube?"
  • "Why do you think the approach works?"
  • "How hard would it be to solve a Rubik's cube if you didn't have a strategy?"
  • "Do you think you could use the same technique to solve another Rubik's cube, like a 3 x 3 cube or a 2 x 2 cube or a 4 x 4 cube?"

The career

Solving a Rubik's cube takes persistence and patience, but so does any problem worth solving. If your child can nail those two qualities, they'll be well equipped in any career they face, especially mechanics, programming, coding, management and even policy and politics.

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