Most of us can’t solve a Rubik’s Cube. But Gulliver Prep senior Leonardo Bonanno can. He even enters competitions.
“I went to the US Nationals,” he says. “I got tenth place in the one-handed division and tenth in Megaminx – it’s a different cube that has 12 sides. It takes a whole different set of algorithms.”
He’s also attended the Cubing Knights competition at the University of Central Florida.
Until recently, there were no competitions in Florida, although the cubing community is growing.
Last May, he hosted a Rubik’s Cube competition at Gulliver. There were 70 participants and more than 100 guests and spectators.
“I wanted to hold one (competition) for the first time and hold it for the community down here,” he says. “It was on official competition recognized by the World Cubing Association.”
Bonanno was happy with the high turnout.
“We’re going to run the same competition again in April,” he says.
The benefits of cubing led him to begin a program to teach elementary school children how to cube.
“Because it’s a fun activity and you can learn a lot of things,” he says. “It’s a competitive activity but you can conceptualize problem solving. And it involves higher level math.”
He chose Coral Reef Elementary School because he attended the after-school program there. He remembers being bored after homework time was over.
He figured that solving Rubik’s Cube would be a better way to for the kids to spend their time. And they loved the program. He says kids came back week after week.
He went to Coral Reef after school for two years, from January to June. He hopes to restart the program this coming January.
Bonanno is finishing high school a year early. He was able to get ahead through self-study with Khan Academy. He was able to take calculus in eighth grade and physics in ninth grade which allows him to graduate a year early.
He’s looking forward to college – having applied early action to MIT, Caltech, and the University of Chicago – where he will major in physics.
Bonanno is happy to share his secrets to success in physics. He recently published a guide for students in Advanced Placement Physics C called Leo’s Guide to AP Physics C:Mechanics.
He wrote the book because there were times when he was taking physics that there were concepts he didn’t understand until he saw examples of how it worked in practice.
The book took six months to write. Another book is in the works.
“The first was about mechanics and the second one is for electricity and magnetism,” he says. “I’m going to try publish that one soon.”
He has another book on microeconomics in mind as well.
At Gulliver, he’s president of Mu Alpha Theta, president of the Astronomy Club, and president of the Science Competition Club.
Last year, he and another Gulliver student competed in the National Chemistry Olympiad and made it to the national level.
“I’m the regional coordinator for the Florida Student Association of Mathematics,” he says. “My job is to recruit people to go to the competitions and host the competitions.”
The organization hosts 12 different competitions and tryouts.
Bonanno has also done dual-enrollment with the University of Miami the past three years, obtaining a minor in mathematics last year.
He volunteered as a research assistant at a neuroscience lab at the University of Miami.
This past summer, he attended a program at the International Summer School for Young Physicists.
Bonanno is also on the varsity bowling team.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld