Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Hunter got a Rubik's cube a few days ago. I got him a 2x2 cube and a little later, got myself a classic, 3x3 one (pictured).

This mechanical puzzle was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, hence the name. It's purpose? To demonstrate the properties of three-dimensional figures to his students.

There are exactly 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations on this little two-inch high toy. Hence, solving it is completely about mathematical logic and reason rather than guesswork, as you could literally spend your entire life doing nothing but twisting the layers to different combinations and still not even touch the surface of possibilities. Forty three quintillion possibilities, one solution.

With so many possibilities and only one solution, it is the unsolvably solvable cube.

The solution to the cube is found in algorithms, those wonderful things that give Google's search engine its power, astronauts the ability to send a spacecraft to the Saturn, and a fifth grader the information to discover the solution to 253 x 746. Algorithms power computer science, mathematics and even linguistics and understanding them is key to all things math and science.

So what could playing with one of these little, inexpensive toys do for a little kid's brain? Well, let's just say I'm not even going to even try to analyze the potential, but I do know that exposure to manipulating one of these little toys has an incredible potential in teaching a superbly advanced level of logic, reasoning, and concentration skills as well as developing an intense understanding of the properties of three-dimensional geometry.

Has he solved it yet? No. Does he play with it all the time? Not really. It sits in his toy box, right in there with his wooden blocks, and he likes bring it out to fiddle with it while we're driving in the car. He joyfully exclaims when he gets two, three, or four blocks of the same color next to each other. Perhaps he'll figure out one of the algorithms (there are many) on his own, or maybe we'll look it up and explore the possibilities together. Who knows, but all I know is that it is one of the best $10 I have spent! With all the potential, what an incredible gift to invest in your child!

What can you teach your tiny kids? Absolutely anything!

"Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences... were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation."
Daniel 5:12

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

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