Did you know that Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, took almost a month to figure out how to solve his own invention? That’s right! When he invented the cube in 1974, he wasn’t sure it could ever be solved. Later, mathematicians calculated that there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways in which the squares can be arranged, out of which only one is correct.
We all know how frustrating and almost impossible it is to solve a Rubik’s Cube, right? But there are these geniuses, most of them kids, for whom this is as easy as adding 1 with 1. We spoke with one of these talented children, nine-year-old wizkid SP Shankar from Hyderabad, who holds two world records for solving not just the Rubik’s Cube but also the Pyraminx. (Pyraminx is a regular tetrahedron puzzle in the style of Rubik’s Cube.)
Persistence and Practice : Keys to Success
This young and talented child has won two international awards for ‘most number of Pyraminxs solved while hanging upside down’, and for ‘most number of Pyraminxs solved while skating’. Besides this, the young record holder won the Limca Award for solving 49 Rubik’s Cubes in just 15 minutes.
When we asked Shankar about the secret behind his skill, his response was one filled with humility and determination. “To be honest, I think anyone can do this. Initially, I couldn’t even solve one side of the cube. It was so frustrating! Eventually, after several months of practice and failing and trying again, I was able to solve all sides and move on to speedcubing. And now I am able to solve even a megamix (a type of Rubik’s Cube with 12 faces).”
It is this passion and determination that got Shankar’s parents to take his interest seriously. Divya Mangala, Shankar’s mother, told us how the young boy’s journey began. “When he was six years old he came across a video where he saw a person solving the Rubik’s Cube. He came to me and said, ‘Amma, can you get me a Rubik’s Cube? I want to solve it too’. I told him that he’s not getting one because when we got him the last time, he broke it. So he went online and placed an order for one himself. We would see him day and night with a cube in his hand and watching videos to learn. Eventually he began solving it so quickly that he could solve the entire cube in 20-30 seconds!”
We asked Shankar what’s the most important thing in trying to solve the cube. His answer turned about to be a life-lesson in itself. “The number one thing that’s important for solving the Cube is practice. For example, there is a method called CFOP to solve a Rubik’s Cube. In that there are more than 100 possible algorithms that can be used in order to solve one Cube. It’s only through focus and practice that now I can look at the cube and know with 100 percent certainty which algorithm would work in that particular case. Not just that, as you are solving the cube and turning each piece, you have to memorise the position of each and every piece all the time. It’s like your hands and mind have to be in complete sync the whole time. It took me years of practice and focus in order to be able to do that. When I was preparing for the world record of solving the Cube while hanging upside down, I could not even hang in that position for 30 seconds. But I was able to do that because everyday I would tell myself – practice, practice, practice!”
BYJU’S – A True Study Companion for Shankar
When the pandemic started, Shankar’s parents took a decision which not a lot of parents would dare to think of: to take him out of regular school and homeschool him.
“Homeschooling allowed us to know our child better, his interests, strengths and weaknesses. We not only concentrated on his studies but at the same time gave a lot of time for him to pursue his passion, which is Rubik’s Cube,” says Shankar’s mother, while talking about her experience of homeschooling him.
“BYJU’S – The Learning App has helped Shankar at every step during his journey of homeschooling. He was going through the videos and learning every concept of each chapter, especially in Math and Science,” explains Divya.
“Throughout the time I was homeschooling, I relied on BYJU’S to learn. What I like most about BYJU’S is that they make every concept easy to visualise and learn. The videos are full of animations and 3D visuals that really help me understand each concept in depth.” Shankar says, when asked about what it is that he likes about BYJU’S.
“Before using BYJU’S, I was really struggling to understand one specific chapter of Science on forces and energy. But once I saw a video on this chapter, I could understand everything. And now I have no problem in that chapter at all! I also love answering questions at the end of each chapter because then I get to know what I have learnt,” explains Shankar.
A Boy of Many Talents
If you think this wonder boy’s skills are only limited to solving Rubik’s Cube, then think again. Shankar is an incredible skater, so much so that now he has a world record in skating while solving the cube. He loves coding and making robots. He recently created a robot which has a 360-degree freedom of movement and can avoid obstacles through its censors. And the best part? He did the coding for it all by himself! Not just that, he is a great swimmer who can dive up to 15 feet in water and is learning to hold his breath for a long time.
Shankar’s mother also proudly told us that Shankar chants Yajurveda everyday and is also learning violin from his father.
We asked if he finds violin tough to play, and with his usual ‘I can do it’ attitude this is what he had to say. “I like challenging things. I love to solve problems. That is why I love Rubik’s Cube and it’s the same reason I like learning the most difficult ragas on a violin.
Did we say he is multi-talented? Well, the boy is a pool brimming with talent!
Way to go Shankar! BYJU’S wishes you all the success and many more achievements in the future!
As a true introvert, Raza Mehdi shudders at the thought of having to expose very much of himself willingly and with malice-aforethought. Writing online since 2008; fiction, poetry, and articles on science, politics, humour and history. When he is not working, he is either trekking in mountains or sleeping. In his own words, the most apt description of him would be: Biryani on social media, daal chawal in person.
My mentor Raksha Chettri has been my pillar of strength from day one. It is her constant guidance and encouraging words that have helped me become a lifelong learner. A big thanks to her and BYJU'S - The Learning App.
BYJU'S app has helped me understand Maths and Science in a fun way. Now, I study from the app, understand concepts, and then go through my textbooks.
BYJU'S is the bridge that connects my imagination to my reality. The engaging study videos with real-life examples help me understand concepts not only from an exam point of view but as a lesson for life.