Barbie Bungee

Barbie Bungee: Linear Models in 8th Grade Math
Posted on 10/28/2019
Barbie Bungee8th grade math students in Mrs. Natasha Armstead’s class got the opportunity to turn Barbie and Ken into thrill-seekers as a concluding project for their Mathematical Models unit. The annual Barbie Bungee activity is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge of linear models, writing equations, graphing data, finding accuracy, and making predictions. Students work together in the classroom to analyze and create models for data relating to the number of rubber bands needed to give Barbie or Ken the biggest thrill while bungee jumping off the sky walk, without harming the doll. They then use this data to create a graph which helps them determine the actual bungee cord they will use for the big jump.

Each group sends one member up to the sky walk with their doll, one member below the sky walk to hold a yard stick for measuring the distance the doll travelled, and one member to watch the yardstick as the doll falls to mark the distance. Dolls jumped one at a time for the official jump to test the predictions that groups made about the correct number of rubber bands in the bungee cord, then the grand finale jump had all dolls jumping at one time. Students enjoyed the opportunity to watch each other’s dolls jump and the reactions to the successful (and not so successful) jumps was very entertaining.

Hands on learning like this is a frequent occurrence in Mrs. Armstead’s class and the resulting increase in engagement is easily noticeable. Most of the unit project is completed in the classroom, and students can show their understanding of many of the key concepts without participating in Barbie Bungee, but the opportunity to have fun while learning is always a strong incentive for students. Why sit in the classroom making predictions, when you can actually get out and go bungee jumping!