Nearly three hours might seem like a long way to travel for an exhibit about the Rubik's Cube. But, the moment I mentioned that Discovery Place in Charlotte would host a special exhibit about the massively popular puzzle, that nearly six hours in the car, which normally would be worth grumbling about, seemed inconsequential to my kids.
They wanted to go and, I'll admit, I was more than a little curious. So, faced with a long weekend and my husband/ their dad out of town, I decided to make the trek. It was well worth it.
The exhibit covers the cube from its creation when Erno Rubik, an architecture professor in Hungary, first came up with the idea to teach his students about geometry. You'll see the original prototype. And it takes you to today when, after more than 40 years, it remains a sought after toy. A couple of fun facts: More than 1 billion people have owned a Rubik's Cube and one out of every seven people on the planet have played with one.
With touch screens and digital tables, the exhibit offers a lot of hands-on opportunities, but my kids seem to gravitate to the stations where they could really do something.
They scrambled up Rubik's Cubes, which are throughout the exhibit, and fed it into a machine to watch a robot solve it. They tested how quickly they could solve a cube on their own. They programmed little robots to follow a chosen path. They controlled a giant cube, the size of a car. They made their own cube music by twisting a special cube to create a composition.
My older daughter, especially, enjoyed chatting with the Rubik's Cube experts to learn new tricks and techniques for quicker puzzle solving. You can find them at the exhibit's Solve Bar. She also enjoyed interacting with other Rubik's fans, who were there taking in the exhibit too.
And there was plenty for my younger daughter, who spent a lot of her time programming little robots, watching the robot show off its skills and taking part in low-tech, Rubik's Cube-related activities.
The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 5, is free with admission to the museum, which is between $13 and $17 per person. (We spent nearly six hours at the museum on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago, so you get your money's worth!). And, there's a special deal on Saturdays: Every Saturday through the run of the exhibit, you'll get free admission if you can solve the cube in under two minutes. You'll find the cube tent at the admission area.