By Sam Jack
GODDARD – A team of sixth-graders (now rising seventh-graders) from Challenger Intermediate School finished the 2018-2019 school year as Rubik’s Cube state champions.
To win the honor, eight members of the team combined their efforts to solve a pile of 25 cubes. From picking up the scrambled puzzle toys to clicking the last colored square into the proper place, it took them 4 minutes, 19 seconds.
The team set that mark at a competition held at Maize High School in March, and the school year ended without another team besting it. Adding to the achievement, the Goddard students were competing against some teams of older kids, including high-school students.
Gifted facilitator Kylie Rush, the team’s sponsor, said Rubik’s Cubes challenged some her students who often breeze through regular schoolwork.
“Some of them can be used to getting everything quickly, but these are not easy,” she said. “You can’t sit down and do it right away.”
Team member Blake Dorr said it took him a couple months of study and effort before he solved a Rubik’s Cube for the first time. Now he can solve a cube in under a minute.
“It took me a lot of practice, and using muscle memory with the algorithms. I kept doing it and doing it until I realized, ‘I can actually do this,” Dorr said.
In simple terms, the algorithms are steps that will result in moving colored squares from place to place without re-scrambling other parts of the cube.
“You don’t solve sides, you solve layers,” team member Alex Carpenter explained. “So top, middle and bottom, you just start at one and keep going.”
Team member Landon Hinds said that the launch of the Rubik’s Cube team created a mania for the puzzles at Challenger.
“It became a big thing, with everybody getting Rubik’s Cubes. They ended up having to take them away in the classroom, because half the class went out and bought one,” he said.
The members of the team were Dorr, Carpenter, Hinds, Brenton Wells, Caleb Lowen, Elaina Baldwin, Gregory Gladkowski, Jackson Daniel and Nolan Bush. The group is moving on to Goddard Middle School. Rush plans to sponsor a new Rubik’s Cube team with a new batch of sixth-graders in the fall.