Archer girls brainstorm, create first Rubik’s Cube mosaic challenge design


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

Karen Garcia '23 solves a Rubik's Cube at the team's first meeting. The team completed a simple practice mosaic after brainstorming design ideas.

Despite the fact that the Rubik’s cube has been around for more than forty years, Archer has never had much to do with it – until now.

A group of student artists and mathematicians met on Oct. 26 to brainstorm ideas for Archer’s entry into the Rubik’s Cube Mosaic Challenge, in which students throughout the country submit original mosaic designs made entirely of Rubik’s cube tiles.

Caitlin Duffy, co-Math Department Chair and faculty adviser of the team, expressed a desire to involve the broader Archer community in the submission. As the project’s deadline gets closer, the team is planning to invite the school community to help with the final assembly of the project during free time, such as X-Block or lunch.

“I really want us to have school spirit around math. I think sometimes it’s a lot harder to do activities as a school or to get involved as a school to do math challenges,” Duffy said. “Often it’s easier in language, or English, or the sciences, but having something math-y to really nerd out on as a school is great.”

Duffy said that the effort to extend participation beyond the team “absolutely” influenced the decision to open voting on the final mosaic pattern up to the entire Archer community. The winning design was an image of feminist icon Rosie the Riveter, which was proposed by team member Ruby Colby ’19.

“I thought it was very Archer,” Colby said. “The winning design last year was a portrait of Malala [Yousafzai], and I was talking to my advisory about it and they thought I should do something [about] feminism and women’s empowerment, because it’s an all-girls team. It’d be cool if it were something that said ‘Hey, girls can do this too’, because it’s a very male-dominated competition – there were a lot of guys in the picture we saw of [last year’s] winning team.”

As the only upper schooler, Colby acts as a mentor to the younger students on the team. She learned to solve the Rubik’s cube the summer before entering Archer, and can now do it from “muscle memory”.

“A few of [the middle schoolers] have come up to me with their Rubik’s cube and they tell me that they’ve finally got it. I remember that feeling,” Colby said, smiling. “They can always come to me with help on anything.”

Colby is excited to participate in a contest where she can use her skills to help the team.

“For a while, I’ve wanted to work on a Rubik’s cube project, because I’ve seen them online,” she said. “It’s the first [Archer] group to do it, so I thought it’d be cool to be a part of it.”