Fun with a twist: Wiggs Middle School students launch Rubik’s Cube club
(WIGGS MIDDLE SCHOOL – Nov. 16, 2022) – The Rubik’s Cube craze of the 1980s is making a comeback at Wiggs Middle School. A group of friends already hooked on cubing launched a club this school year and have seen it grow to 26 members.
Every Monday, the cubers study algorithms to solve the puzzle and try for personal bests with each twist of the cube. The club is open to all students – even those who have never solved the puzzle. The core group teaches newbies the moves and shows them videos to help them solve their first Rubik’s Cube puzzle.
“In fifth grade, I learned how to solve it after being sick for like five days. My friends at school saw me solve it and learned to solve it, too, but there were no clubs at our elementary school,” said sixth grader Cruz Weber. “At lunch, we were discussing how cool it would be if we had a Rubik’s Cube club and then we were all on board with it.”
Weber’s friend, Elias Wagler, then approached art teacher Seph Torres to sponsor the club by presenting a well-thought-out plan he created on video. Torres agreed to sponsor and now the cubers have a home every Monday after school in his classroom.
“I was blown away by Elias’ skills and the interest coming in afterward for the club,” Torres said, who admits he’s still honing his cubing skills. “Some algorithms they talk about go over my head. It’s very impressive.”
Wagler promotes the hobby as a good way to work your brain and an alternative to screentime on video games. The seventh grader’s personal best time is 16 seconds – a time he’s constantly trying to beat.
“It gives you something to do with your hands, there’s lots of pattern recognition,” said Wagler, while maneuvering the cube. “It is like a video game because every time you beat your time, it sends your brain good feelings.”
The 3-by-3 square cube can generate 43 quintillion different combinations with every twist and turn of the cube. Members are continuously working their cubes during the 45-minute club time. Oftentimes, club members are talking to each other while impressively solving the puzzle. They know stats and facts about the cubes including algorithms, brands and even the world record time – 3.47 seconds set in 2018.
“It’s constantly working your brain,” Wagler said. “It kind of sucks you in.”
The club recommends students bring their own Rubik’s Cube to join in the fun, which they recommend purchasing online. Note that the 2022 version of the Rubik’s Cube is far advanced from the $1.99 cube of the 1980s. These modern puzzles are much faster than the original and can cost significantly more money depending on the quality and features.
“The cubes nowadays are made with magnets to make them smoother and they don’t get caught corner cutting,” he said. “It costs more than the original.”
Sixth grader Noah Menzies was among the club’s founders. He saw Weber working the cube as a fifth grader and desperately wanted to solve it.
“The first time I solved it was over spring break,” he said, whose personal best is 20 seconds. “When I finally did solve it, I was super excited. Something I thought was impossible for so long was now doable.”
Eighth grader Josephine Kelley, who first cracked the puzzle earlier this year, liked the idea of meeting up with other cubers.
“It’s fun because you don’t usually meet a lot of people who know how to solve it,” she said. “I’m learning different ways to solve it and more stuff about it. I can just pick it up and there's always something new to learn and new patterns to use.”
The students hope to see club membership grow – even to other area middle schools – so that they can have competitions.
“Even if you don’t know how to solve it, someday you will be able to do it,” said sixth grader Santiago Rodriguez. “I like the feeling of accomplishments – finishing something that was difficult before. My old time was 54 seconds and when I got it to 53 seconds, I was so excited. It felt like the greatest accomplishment.”