Above, fourth-graders at Hooper Avenue Elementary School have revived the Rubik’s Cube craze.
The 3-D puzzle that stumped millions of Gen-Xers in the 1980s is making a comeback at Hooper Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles.
There, fourth-graders are flipping over what their parents knew as the Rubik’s Cube and they call simply the 3-by-3, describing the three rows that make up the maddening toy. During recess and lunch breaks, the kids pull out their cubes and try again and again to line up the rows so that each side of the cube is a solid color.
When you consider that there are more than 43 quintillion ways to scramble the original Rubik’s Cube, it’s a miracle that anyone ever solves it.
But Enrique Amezcua is one of them – and he can do it in just 14 seconds.
“One day, I was bored and I wanted to challenge my mind,” he said. “I watched a program on YouTube and a guy did a magic trick with the Rubik’s Cube and I asked my parents to give me one. Then, I went to the library and checked out a book … and the next day, I figured it out. I couldn’t believe it. That was in December of 2017. I still remember the date.”
Now, Enrique hones his puzzle-solving skills with a Rubik’s Speed Cube, a pyramid cube and seven other styles of the puzzle.
The Cube was invented in 1974 by Ernõ Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture who wanted to help his students understand three-dimensional problems. (It took Rubik more than a month to solve it.)
He licensed his puzzle to Ideal Toy Co., which began selling it worldwide in 1980. Since then, more than 400 million cubes have been sold, making it among the top-selling toys in history.
“I think it’s a good exercise for your brain,” said Hooper student Daisy Garcia. “When I first got it, Enrique solved it for me. And then I tried the pyramid and I solved one side.”
Kitze Gomez says, “I also like the challenge. When I’m bored, I can play for hours. I’ve solved the pyramid. It’s easier with just the four sides.”
Principal Gustavo Ortiz experiences a touch of nostalgia as he watches the kids on the playground.
“Having gone to school in the ’80’s, and seeing the kids trying to solve it, does bring back memories,” he said. “I think it’s great so many of my kids are picking it up again.”