Students had to devise a hypothesis on how the cube worked. My favorite idea was that there is a little bird inside like on the Flinstones. As students took the cubes apart, they needed to document their findings so it could go back together.
I pointed out that we typically look inside animals in science labs but don't often put them back together. But when we have surgery, we all expect the doctor to put us back together.
Students identified the different types of pieces that make up the cube and noted their relationship to each other. I asked if a corner piece could ever be an edge piece. After thinking about it and playing with the cube, they realized the answer is no. But I reminded them that if we let the cube sit for millions of years, eventually a corner could somehow evolve into an edge piece. I don't think they believed me!
There was plenty of engineering and problem solving going on. They also discovered sequencing was important, that pieces could not be reassembled in a different order. The entire lab took only 45 minutes and everyone got their cube back together. The cubes were made available through You Can do The Cube's lending library program and lesson plans.