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Middle and Upper School ‘cubers’ compete in Rubik’s tourney

On Saturday, January 21, physical education teacher Bill Schneider and I took two teams to the New England/Concord Rubik’s Cube Challenge. This was the seventh year in a row Brookwood has participated in this competition, and we also hosted it for two years as well.

Beginning in fifth grade, as a part of the math curriculum, every student is schooled in the algorithms in order to solve this internationally acclaimed puzzle. Students who become the fastest at solving it try out for the teams.

There was a team for the Elementary Division made up of fifth graders, and there was a team for the Upper Level, made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, most of whom have competed in the past. All team members and alternates also compete in the “Solo Solve” competition. Our grade five solo solvers only had about 60 seconds between our slowest and fastest times … that’s a tight field! Rae H. and Cole P. as well as Jack D. and Lyla S. both had times only two tenths of a second apart. Wow, that’s close!

Al B. and Bobby M. were favored going into the tourney, and then our call-up/walk-on Lila D. stepped up and helped us sweep the Elementary podium, the three getting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the division respectively. When asked about his win, Al replied, “It was cool.” Second place finisher, Bobby M. added, “I had been looking forward to it for years, since third or fourth grade. It surprised me that I got a 2nd place! It was just such fun to spend Saturday with my friends doing something I like to do.” Our Grade 5 group was up against some stiff competition in the “Team Solve” and ultimately we did better than two other teams full of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders! The fifth graders reflected:

“In my solo solve, I was so close to beating Lila for third place. Even though I was desperate for that spot, I said, ‘Hey, it’s not the end of the world,’ and I moved on…. When I was asked to help the US team, I was excited for the opportunity to shine, but I knew I’d have to step up my game to help the team.”  Kevin M., Grade 5

“I had no idea what to do, but the video helped because it explained [things] well. The rest of the steps were hard to learn, but my friend and I promised each other we would learn the middle layer before breakfast one weekend.”  Helena C., Grade 5

“There is a lot of pressure when you don’t know what the state of the cube will be when you get it, and you have to be very focused on your own cube.”  Vance F., Grade 5

“Even though I was only watching the Team Solve competition, I felt so much anxiety for everyone on the team, and then when they finished, I was so happy for them!”  Ellie W., Grade 5

“On the Solo round, with all of the people watching and the timer, it was a lot of pressure, and I could’ve done better. I feel that I did better in the Team Solve because I had all of my friends around me.” Lyla S., Grade 5

“I thought it was impossible at the beginning, and then it got easier as I learned the algorithms and tricks. It’s satisfying to make it to the competition because you work really hard to get there.” Jack D., Grade 5

Our Upper School Team Solve competitors also persevered. We were only 18 seconds out of second place and our 6th place finish was separated from 5th place by only four seconds!

For the Solo Solve, 8th grader James M., was 7th out of a field of 49 … wow! He reported, “This is my fourth year, and I love the competitions, where everyone is really friendly and supportive.”

Evan B. and Spencer S. were separated by seven one thousandths of a second … that is also so close!  Thanks to Kevin M. for getting “called up” to help them out, it was so much fun to watch.

Seventh grader Remsen D.’s comment on it all, “It’s fun.” Past team member, seventh grader, Mallory R. remembers, “Seriously, I actually didn’t think I’d be able to solve it. I thought it was for people who are really smart, but eventually I read and used the solution guide, and there was some simple logic to it. The algorithms were really cool. I’m generally a nervous person but going to the competition last year really benefitted me. I met a new group of people and enjoyed the atmosphere!”

Other Upper School cubers reflect:

“When I heard my brother was doing it, I had to practice and see if I could make the team. When I made the team, I was surprised.”  Evan B., Grade 6

“Memorizing the steps was hard, because each step was different from the one before.” Maeve G., Grade 6

“It was frustrating when you mess up in the tournament, but it’s also fun.”  Jaden Z., Grade 6

“The Rubik’s Cube has made me look at any situation from lots of different sides and angles, because when you are solving the Rubik’s Cube, you aren’t just solving for one side, but the whole cube. I’m going to miss the competitions, but if my new [secondary] school doesn’t have a team, I might have to start one so we can still go to competitions.”  James M., Grade 8

– Sven Holch,
Grade 5 teacher

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