George W. Hart

The Stony Brook Puzzle Club makes a cube!  This was a group
building activity to celebrate the end of the Spring 2009 semester.

Start with twenty-seven cube-shaped boxes, lots of packing tape, and a group of helpers.

Phase 1 is to tape up the boxes into two-foot cubes.  Neatness counts.

Work in a big space.  We're in the Stony Brook University Computer Science building lobby.

We've now proudly mastered the individual cube. (Don't sit on them!)

Phase 2 is to join cubes into the soma shapes, being careful to have each team do a different shape.

Having a set of small models helps, especially for getting the two chiral ones correct.

OK, all seven parts are done.  End of phase 2.

Phase 3: Build a 3-by-3-by-3 cube.  How hard can it be when there are 240 different solutions?

It is slower than you think, as each move takes group coordination and communication.


Phase 4: After the cube, there are lots of other challenges to try. 
This is either The Dog or The Sphinx, depending on who you ask.

Here is The Tunnel.

It's functional.

The top of The Skyscraper pretty high.  What to do?

Luckily, there is a balcony around this lobby.

The Skyscraper.  It's fourteen feet tall.

What happened to the parts later is a mystery, but there are
rumors of a 14-foot dinosaur being seen on campus that night...

My favorite is The Sphinx.

The Soma puzzle was designed by Piet Hein in the 1930s.

There are lots more challenges on the websites here and here, from which I borrowed these drawings.

The boxes for this event were provided by The Math Midway, where attendees
can play with many cool things, including more giant Soma and other big puzzles.
This project appeared as part of the Math Monday series on the
Makezine blog, sponsored by the Museum of Mathematics.