Monday, August 31, 2009

Barbie Bungee: A Maths Investigation

Last week we completed one of my favourite maths investigations. Basically, we tied a string of rubber bands around a Barbie Doll's feet and threw her out of a really tall window . . .

In reality, it's a lot more sophisticated. Barbie Bungee is an investigation which covers a number of mathematical skills and strategies, but with my Year 5s and 6s really served to teach them that a) patterns can be graphed and b) predictions can be made from these graphs.

To complete this investigation the class was broken into four groups (I have 4 Barbie dolls), given a Barbie Doll each and a whole pile of rubber bands which were the same size. We then broke the investigation into steps which were completed over a few days.

Step One: Students learned about the investigation. They practiced tying the rubber bands (one looped around another then pulled through), thought about how they were going to take measurements (grabbing 30cm rulers, 1m rulers and tape measures) and practiced throwing Barbie from various places (important to get this need out of their system) We also talked about the goal - to throw Barbie from the sound box in our school hall, getting her as close to the ground as possible without touching . . .

Step Two: Taking our initial measurements. Students staked out the best spots and dropped Barbie with one rubber band, two rubber bands, three, four and five rubber bands (and so on). They were required to complete three tests at each stage and then find an average (for accuracy) and they had to record their information in a table. This took one to two days. The best thing I saw during this was the use of different measuring methods (sticky taping two measuring tapes together) and creative placed to drop Barbie (out the classroom window).

Step Three: Graphing the results: Students used their results to make a graph (number of rubber bands against distance fallen). They then used this graph with it's almost straight line to predict how many rubber bands they would need.

Step Four: Test Day. We took the students and an audience to the hall and each group had three goes at tossing Barbie from the sound box. The measurements (how close to the ground) were averaged and the closest to the ground won. All in all, very entertaining and a fabulous time. We did a small write up afterwards - what steps did we take, what maths was involved, but nothing too much.

A great investigation.


1 comment:

  1. A really great investigation.Awesome read.