Christy Steffen Leave the Chalk Behind

Barbie Bungee Fun with Graphing

First project of the year had its ups and downs, with the downs springing back up. After looking at my student data for the Algebra 1 ECA (Indiana Graduate Qualifying Exam), I determined that interpreting graphs was an extremely weak area for all the students in my Math Lab. After this realization, I turned to the internet for my research. I wanted engaging activities that help the students to understand the coordinate plane.

I often turn to the internet if I don’t already have an idea in mind. I came across two fairly simple activities, M&M Bungee and Barbie Bungee. None of the students have actually bungee jumped so we watches some short videos to give a reference point for the concept.

The first activity was used to remind them how to record and graph data. They also had to make an educated guess on a smaller scale. Then, came the big project with their ultimate goal to give Barbie (or Ken) the greatest thrill, without killing her. Every one of the students was engaged in collecting data and analyzing it to make an educated guess. The students were actually nervous to let their Barbies go over the edge.

In order to collect data the students dropped Barbie from about 6 feet and marked how far she fell with 2, 4, 6, and 8 rubber bands. Below are pictures of the initial data collection for both activities.

On the first drop, all Barbies survived! Here is short (amateur) video taken of the drop. Barbie Bungee Part 1:

Because everything in life is a competition (*sarcasm) I had the two closest re-drop to determine the closest to the ground. Barbie Bungee Part 2:

The two groups that didn’t make it to the finals wanted a redo. Both of the groups did not trust their calculations and underestimated the number of rubber bands. I let them go back to the data and readjust the length the bungee cords and re-drop.

A few take-aways from the project include: using a meter stick and measuring tape is not innate, graphing is understood when it is relevant, and students can learn while having fun!

Some students had trouble measuring which is frightening but probably not as uncommon as I thought. With a quick mini-lesson, they were back on track. One of the greatest accomplishments was their ability to graph the information. There were no mistakes with the x and y-axis. Often they are given coordinates without context and fumble with the axis. All students were engaged and having fun, I am confident this will transfer to their assessments.

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