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Bungeeing Barbies

October 24, 2013

Wapakoneta High School math teacher Darrell Heintz leads Math Modeling seniors in dropping bungee jumping Barbie dolls off a ledge at the Wapakoneta High School.

A few high school seniors were caught playing with Barbie dolls Wednesday morning in the main hall of the Wapakoneta High School.
The “Math Modeling” class, a college transition math class, spent its class time bungee jumping Barbie dolls off a 16-foot, 7-inch drop at the high school.
“They are learning how to use mathematics to predict things,” math teacher Darrell Heintz said.
He said the students used mathematical equations to determine the outcome of Barbie’s fall. Students tied rubber bands together to create a bungee cord with the goal of getting their doll to jump the farthest without hitting the floor.
Heintz said his students learned measurement and data collection skills.
“They’ve been very active with this,” Heintz said. “They’re learning a lot and doing a lot of critical thinking.”
As an added incentive for the competition, aside from a passing grade, Heintz passed out $10 Subway gift cards to each student in the winning group.
Pairing up in groups, students chose a representative from each group to drop their Barbie dolls of “The Ledge,” a balcony in the upper level of the school that opens to the main floor.
Each bungeeing Barbie was measured at the lowest point in the fall.
The winning group’s Barbie fell to a mere 15 centimeters from the ground before springing back up.
“Group 5” students Gabe Williams, 18, and Josh Kraft, 18, said their project was a success, with their “Skater for the Olympics” Barbie doll bungeeing a total of 70 centimeters away from the floor.
Kraft said he enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the project.
“It beats doing worksheets and packets,” Kraft said.
The students said they learned a lot throughout the three-day project and said they practiced on smaller jumps before the nearly 17-foot drop on Wednesday.
“We made an equation that allowed us to do any length,” Williams said about the length of Barbie’s fall.
He said he was enjoying the bungee jumping project, and his favorite part is the usefulness of the knowledge acquired.
“We can apply it to equations in real life,” Williams said.
Heintz said the Math Modeling class is a grant class through the National Science Foundation of James A. Rhodes State College. It is one of the four STEM classes available at the school, including science, technology, engineering and math.

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