Junior Graham Hill utilizes his quick hands and memorized algorithms to solve the Rubik’s Cube. Photo: Abby Meyerowitz

Popular in the 1980s, the Rubik’s Cube is making a comeback, especially among juniors at Pace Academy. Many consider the cube just a simple childhood toy, something they’ve never really thought about. However, the junior class is on the road to mastering the 3-D puzzle.

Students are spending hours manipulating the cube and memorizing the required algorithms. Junior Graham Hill, a Pace Academy legend with a record solve of around 40 seconds, is a natural. His deep concentration and ability to move his fingers swiftly has gained him fame in the community. “It’s about pattern recognition and finger dexterity,” said Hill. “Over time, with more and more practice, you get faster and you recognize patterns more easily and do the necessary moves faster.”

Like all skills learned, you must start from the bottom, and with practice, you will improve. Even Hill was a beginner once. His cube solving career initially began out of boredom. “I have a thing for pointless talents including yoyos and juggling,” said Hill. “I wanted to learn how to do a Rubik’s Cube and so I first looked up a YouTube video and went step by step and memorized algorithms.”

The cubes can vary in size, colors and even shape. Junior Cooper Selig owns a 3″ X 3″ cube that has a more spherical shape. He claims its movements are quicker and uses this advantage to improve his timing. “It’s turned into a competitive sport,” said Selig. “My friends and I compete to achieve the fastest times, and my new round cube gives me a head start.”

Some are simply incapable of completing the challenging puzzle. Junior dean Erica Barbakow suspects that there are cheaters among us. “All I’ve noticed is that a certain junior boy (initials AL) cheats,” said Ms. Barbakow. “He puts a finished one in his pocket and takes another one out and says ‘look what I can do’ then replaces it with the finished one.” Some students feel as if they don’t fit in or are excluded if they don’t follow this recent trend. “I feel so left out that I don’t know how to do one,” said junior Chase Karamanolis. “Not having a cube is like not having a phone; it’s something you can’t go without.”

Aside from being fun and challenging, Rubik’s Cubes give relief to students who appreciate having something to play with in class. “Rubik’s Cubes help calm my anxiety,” said junior Kylie Blank. “They are an outlet for me to steady my mind.” The combination of the multiple colors and having something to fidget with is appealing to many students. “It’s nice to have something to do with my hands to keep me focused in class,” said Hill. “It occupies my brain and hand-eye coordination.” Others enjoy the feeling of accomplishment the cube provides. “It helps me in math class because it makes me feel connected to the school atmosphere,” said junior Henry Todd.