‘Bungee-Jumping Barbies’ demo science principles at Bob Jones
MADISON – An iconic doll taught lessons in physical science at Bob Jones High School.
Freshmen and sophomores calculated slope and determined the number of rubber bands needed “to give Barbie a safe, yet thrilling, bungee-jumping experience,” instructional partner Mary Oliver said. Students applied numerous mathematics and science concepts.
“The second day, students attached rubber bands to their Barbies and launched them over the stairwell railing,” Oliver said.
The “Barbie Bungee Lab” promoted teamwork and problem-solving skills that students need in the workplace, science teacher Mary Katherine Graf said. In her first year at Bob Jones, Graf earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama.
In addition, the lab allowed students to correct mistakes, “a valuable skill. Life is all about second chances. If we were expected to be perfect the first time we did something, success would not an achievable goal,” Graf said.
In real-world application, students used algebra and science to gather, analyze and interpret data, along with identifying patterns and metric conversions. “One of the experiment’s most powerful elements was use of the scientific method to test and retest the result … and adjust calculations,” Graf said.
Bob Jones Principal Robby Parker said teachers use “formative assessment” to check students’ understanding, while science students adjust factors using the “scientific method” as they learn. “Ms. Graf’s students learned from their mistakes in calculations and made improvements to change the outcome of their experiment,” Parker said.
“In the real world, we often don’t get it right on the first, second or even third try. We make adjustments. Learning from mistakes and correcting them is important,” Parker said.
For student Breyanna Chisolm, the most valuable lesson was “getting a chance to make adjustments. I was able to do a better job the second time.”
The most difficult aspect for Chisolm “was figuring out the exact number of bands needed to perfectly drop the Barbie without hitting the floor. Having the formulas and working with my partners helped make it easier.”