Dr. Christine von Renesse writes this feature for Art of Mathematics, in which she gives a comprehensive overview of what can be expected in a class with the Rubik's Cube. She points out that the cube is a good tool for teaching Algebra, reasoning skills, and conceptual thinking. It's interesting to hear how student react in "Cube Groups" as well. Check out the videos to watch a class with the Cubes in action!
The official website for Rubik's Cube will show you how solve a 3x3 cube in 6 steps. There is a video to accompany each step, so it's easy to follow along. Beneath the videos are printable PDF solution guides than can be given to the class. It's a great way for students to practice solving the Rubik's Cube either alone or in small groups. It also serves as a great exercise to practice following directions.
You Can Do the Cube provides a variety of Rubik's Cube lesson plans. Simply select the subject and standards, and you are taken to a page that lists all the lesson that are aligned with your state standards. Fellow teachers design the lessons themselves, so you know you're getting genuine, organic lessons that are practical and useful. If you don't already have an account, it's free to sign up. You can upload some of your own lesson plans with the Rubik's Cube!
If you thought life-sized chess was crazy, a life-sized Rubik's cube is taking it to the next level. Let your class meet Tony Fisher, who holds the Guinness World Record for world's largest Rubik's cube. He explains how he built the large scale model, and in the video, you can watch him solve it in his back yard. It's a fun bit of information to bring into class, and raises a good discussion on scale models.
Michael Hutchinson from the Department of Mathematics at Berkeley presents this 26-slide presentation on the math of Rubik's Cube. Hutchinson touches upon the most basic mathematical concepts, such as multiplication, symmetry, and integers-- proving the Rubik's Cube lends itself to many math class applications. I think the discussion of rotational symmetry of a cube is great conversation piece for a Geometry class.
The Math Meeting Channel hosts a monthly competition giveaway of a free Rubik's Cube. All your students need to do is solve the problem on the video and email the solution to the channel host, Chris, to be automatically entered into the drawing. It's a great challenge to share with students, and I'm sure many of them would be excited at the idea of winning their very own Rubik's Cube!
David Pescovitz covers Rubik's Cube master, Ian Scheffler, for BoingBoing in 2016. Scheffler's new book, Cracking the Cube discusses the math and theory behind solving the Rubik's Cube. The article also includes a video of Scheffler talking, and a couple excerpts from the book. You may want to explore introducing this "celebrity cube master" into your lesson on permutations. Once you read this article, you'll definitely want to order Cracking the Cube for your personal library!
If your class is at the very beginning of working with the Rubik's Cube, the 2x2 cube may be best to start your study. Noah Ricardson shares this YouTube video on how to solve a 2x2 Rubik's Cube. The video is only about eight minutes long, and consists of three basic steps. Once students get the hand of the 2x2 cube, I'm sure they will be motivated to try out their new skills on the 3x3 cube!
If your class is thrilled to study math with the Rubik's Cube, then tell them to checkout this page. The puzzle goes far beyond the 3x3 cube, and takes on different shapes, colors, and designs. Challenge your in-class Rubik's Cube masters to take their math skills to the next level with some of these wild designs. I like the cube that lights up and can be used as a lamp!