Both Runners and Rubik’s Cube Solvers Race to the Finish Line
By Dan Van der Vieren
Each year, D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School hosts a community 2K/5K run/walk open to the public and numerous cross-country teams in Colorado. As an alumnus of the school, I continue to support the athletics and academics of my alma mater by hosting a table at the event and provide a fun activity for those present.
On August 25th, I brought 200 Rubik’s Cubes along with several mosaic templates to entice all who could solve at least one face of the Rubik’s Cube. With the Cubes, I challenged two teams of solvers to compete against each other to finish a 100-Cube mosaic before the other team. The two mosaics selected for this competition were Vincent Van Gogh and the Mona Lisa. For both solvers and non-solvers alike, I provided an opportunity to engage in the competition by voting for one of the teams using #TeamVanGogh and #TeamMonaLisa on Twitter and Instagram. This allowed for everyone to participate in some capacity.
Initially, I stood by myself, solving a couple of Cubes for each team to get the competition started. After fifteen minutes, a couple of students arrived at the table before the race.
“Hey, there! Do you know how to solve one of these?” I inquired, holding an unsolved Rubik’s Cube in my hand.
“No, not completely,” one of the students said with a sheepish grin. “I get one side solved and then I get stuck.”
“Perfect!” I replied enthusiastically. “That is all you need to work on these mosaics! Can you help one of the teams by following these templates?”
“I can give it a try,” the student replied.
Several minutes later, the students who had first walked up to the booth were twisting the Cubes, and several others had also decided to investigate. Soon, a small crowd of students and parents were surrounding the booth watching the solving happen.
After the D’Evelyn marching band performed for the crowd of spectators prior to the 2K/5K, three sousaphone players, Makai L., Ryan, N., and Kentaro B. all arrived at the table.
“Can I see one of those?” Makai asked.
He proceeded to start solving the Cube at a very fast rate, catching the eyes of those around him. Immediately afterwards, Ryan and Kentaro picked up Cubes and started solving them at similar rates.
“Wow! All three of you can speedsolve the Rubik’s Cube?!” I asked in surprise.
“Yeah, I even have a YouTube channel,” Makai claimed proudly.
The three boys solved several Cubes for the mosaics but were soon summoned by their band director to return to practice.
Across the two-and-a-half-hour event, there was a lot of foot traffic; people of all ages continued arriving at the booth, intrigued by the Rubik’s Cube and those individuals twisting and turning the Cubes for the mosaic competition. It was a close race, but in the end, #TeamVanGogh pulled ahead, “winning” by completing the mosaic about 23 Rubik’s Cubes ahead of the Mona Lisa mosaic.
The students—and even parents—loved the challenge and even after the first mosaic was completed, continued to solve the other mosaic. They were determined to finish both Van Gogh and the Mona Lisa before all the runners crossed the finish line. With the event being such a success, I hope to continue to bring the Rubik’s Cube to D’Evelyn, as well as other schools in Colorado to demonstrate how we all CAN do the Rubik’s Cube.
Dan currently serves as an Ambassador for You CAN Do The Rubik’s Cube, and is eager to share his experiences working with his own students at Chinook West Alternative High School in Nederland, Colorado. You can watch him discuss his success in the classroom in his talk entitled, “Using The Rubik’s Cube to Enrich STEAM Education,” filmed for TEDxBoulder 2018.