IT’S a puzzle which has left most people stumped for almost 40 years.
But nine-year-old Darrin McDonald can solve the Rubik’s Cube no problem – and it only takes him around 90 seconds.
The youngster is such a natural at the puzzle that he has also solved a larger version – which has five squares down each side rather than three – though that takes him around an hour.
He’s also mastered a 15-sided pentagonal version and is now working on the seven-square cube.
Darrin, from Chesser, said he had started out with the regular cube.
“I got that about a year ago,” he said. “It was a present from my mum’s boyfriend. For the first one I used YouTube to work it out, but after that I started trying to figure them out myself and I moved on to the next one and the next one.
“I don’t know why I’m good at it. Everyone was really surprised when I brought it into school and I showed them, I felt nervous, but proud too.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Darrin’s favourite subject at school is maths – but he’s not your archetypal studious puzzler and is more likely to be found getting up to mischief than asking for extra homework, according to class teacher, Chris Kelly.
He said: “It’s great, it’s absolutely terrific. I was just blown away, particularly with the 15-sided one. It’s particularly good with Darrin because he sometimes gets in a bit of trouble but it’s brilliant to recognise his talents – all children have talents in a range of different ways and this is one particular area where his talents are really shining.”
Darrin showed off his incredible skill to fellow pupils at Balgreen Primary in assembly, and has now become a tutor for classmates who want to follow in his footsteps.
“We have problem-solving hours on Tuesday and I teach a group of people, but they find it quite hard,” the youngster said.
His record for completing a standard cube from scratch is one minute and 39 seconds, achieved in school assembly, which puts him just a shade behind Labour leader Ed Milliband, who famously boasted that he could solve the cube in 90 seconds.
He still needs a little practice until he can challenge the world record holder, however, after 17-year-old Feliks Zemdegs completed the cube in just 5.66 seconds at the Australia Melbourne Winter Open competition last year.
Mr Kelly said: “In class we’ve been focusing on problem-solving and thinking skills and how to apply that in lots of other areas.
“So then Darrin brought in his Rubik’s cube and showed it to us, so we started to celebrate that and it’s grown from that.
“He’s got a real talent for maths – a lot of kids don’t recognise they do have talents. Since we started celebrating his talents, his self-esteem has risen, and his ability to be more self-reflective on areas that he’s good at.”