Updated 11/01/2010 02:01 PM
Tech Beat: Puzzling challenge puts students to the test
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Less than two minutes. That's how fast 12-year-old Amy Pimentel can solve a Rubik's Cube.
One minute and 55 seconds to be exact, and she learned it all in one day with the “You Can Do The Rubik’s Cube” initiative.
The class is part of New York City Parks and Recreation after-school programs. It’s an initiative the cube's developers came up with as a way to both celebrate the iconic puzzle's 30th birthday and use it to teach some real world lessons.
The program comes with a box of cubes and booklets teaching kids, and the adults looking over their shoulders, how to solve it.
"It teaches them life lessons. It can be pretty frustrating when you're doing it and some of them could give up," NYC Parks After-School Coordinator Cindy Caruso said. "Well actually it's been the opposite; it's a boost to their self confidence. A lot of the kids will go home do one color come back and do it again and they get excited about it great for their confidence. It encourages them that if it's something they don't normally feel comfortable doing or are familiar with it encourages them to try something new."
The kids who participate say it's especially gratifying to take it home to mom and dad and teach them how to solve the toy they likely gave up trying to master 20 or 30 years ago.
"I kind of found it interesting and I was excited the first time I completed the Rubik's Cube," one student said.
"At my home I couldn't do it but then when you see other people solve it you get really inspired by how they do it," another student said.
For teachers who want to bring the Rubik's Cube challenge into the classroom, developers have even created an online math program for it.
At the initiative's website, www.YouCanDoTheCube.com, educators can download lesson plans that integrate the puzzle into certain curricula, which creators insist can help covering topics including area, perimeter, volume, angles and algorithms. The site also has solution guides, activities for parents and youth organizations and even information on cube solving competitions.
For more on programs that engage teenagers in science, technology, engineering and math, visit ConnectAMillionMinds.com.