COURTESY PHOTO - S. C. Junior High students launch bungeed Barbie Dolls from the second story inside balcony using rubber bands to gather and graph data on the motion of a falling object as part of a science experiment.

Barbie takes a giant leap in the name of science at S. C. Lee

Special to Leader-Press

Barbie has held more than 150 careers in her lifetime which has spanned nearly 60 years. From flight attendant to veterinarian to rock star to aerobics instructor to police office, Barbie has pretty much done it all. But, S. C. Lee Junior High 6th grade science students found a way to take the famous icon to new heights.

Teacher Robert Turner’s students participated in an investigation lab that included launching bungeed Barbie Dolls from the second story inside balcony in order to have students work in teams to gather and graph data on the motion of a falling object. Students then generated a manual fit line from their results and used computer graphing software to compare and check their results. Students used their data to practice making predictions from a linear equation they developed from their graphs and then tested those predictions.

“The Barbie Doll Bungee Jumping lab was fun and exciting,” 6th grader Taylor O’Brien said. “I learned how to solve an equation with many variables.”

To accomplish these tasks, students took rubber bands and tied them around the Barbie Doll’s feet. They dropped Barbie and measured how far she fell with a single rubber band used as her bungee cord. They then added an additional rubber band and dropped her again. Students repeated these trials until they had recorded data on Barbie’s fall for up to six rubber bands. Students took this data and used it to create a scatter graph. Students identified and marked the best fit line on their graphs and used this data to assist them in creating their linear equation.

“I loved how we were able to test the Barbie doll before we officially dropped her off the balcony,” 6th grader Martrice Walls-Greene said. “I also loved how we were able to combine science, reading, and math together to figure out how many rubber bands we needed in order for our Barbie Doll to have a safe and thrilling experience.”

Students identified their graph’s linear regression, slope, and y-intercept which was Barbie’s height to begin making predictions for how many rubber bands would be needed for Barbie to make a thrilling but safe jump from different heights. Students were then provided a final jump height to plug into their equation. Students solved their formula and predicted how many rubber bands were required for Barbie to safely jump from the S.C. Lee balcony.

“Most students successfully predicted the appropriate number of required rubber bands, although some Barbie Dolls had more thrilling jumps than others,” Turner said. “Ultimately, students had a great time learning how to graph objects in motion and making predictions from a linear equation.”

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