I’ve heard about the Barbie Bungee for a while now but I’ve never tried it before this year. My excuse was that I have 3 little boys so I don’t own any Barbies, but when my colleague offered her Barbies because she was teaching Algebra 1 at the same time as me, I couldn’t refuse.
Where to Start
Dan Meyer fostered a discussion on who started the activity best. I thought I could give the students even more of the burden of work, so I created a worksheet that left out the words “regression” and didn’t even point them in the direction of what type of data to collect. Here is my worksheet.
The Day of Planning (Day 1)
After introducing the situation and explaining that “Barbie doesn’t know right now what height she wants to jump from, but she will tomorrow!”, many students didn’t know where to start. Many groups didn’t include Barbie at first and many didn’t test it by actually dropping Barbie (which came back to haunt them!). Nobody thought to use “LinReg” (Linear Regression on a TI-84) on their own and I suggested it to a few groups who seemed stuck.
The best help I gave on day 1 was to walk them through what will happen to them in the next day of class: “You will get the height but you won’t be able to measure any more… what will you do?”. I also encouraged groups that were done early to “test their plan on a height that they hadn’t tried yet”.
Not every group had a equation. Not every group had more than 3 data points (though they were struggling the entire time!). One group had a quadratic equation!
The Day of the Jump (Day 2)
On the day of the jump, I told them where we were going: “Barbie wants to go somewhere tropical, so we’re going to the pool deck!”. After giving them the height, I watched them struggle. And struggle, and struggle. Students had to convert (I didn’t tell them what units I was going to give it in!) while others had to come up with an equation. Despite my repeated reminders the day before for students to have more than one copy of their data in case anyone was absent, two groups were missing the one student who had “all the stuff”.
The students took much longer than I thought, both figuring out how many rubber bands to use AND attaching the rubber bands. Fortunately the drops didn’t take very long, and fortunately we have 80 minute classes (block schedule), so the students had about 15-20 minutes after we got back to the classroom to write up the “report”, explaining which parent function they used and giving future students advice.
Here’s a short video that I created for the students that I showed them on the last day of school to “remind them of the good times we had doing Barbie Bungee”. I was amazed at how fast and easy it was to create this video on WeVideo!
I think in the future I’m going to start my class with this video from Dan Meyer:
 Yes, my school is one of 2 in the county built in the 70’s and so it has a pool. If it wasn’t the pool, I would have taken them to the gym where there’s a 2nd floor. If it was warmer outside, we would have gone to the stadium bleachers.