Friday, March 13, 2015

Barbie Zip Line

I did this activity with my Math 8 class a few weeks ago.  I loved the activity and even though some of the kids tried to play like they weren't really interested when it was their turn you could see the interest.  Sorry, mistake number 1 and 2.  No pictures and no video.

We had first gone over Pythagorean Theorem.  They understood how to use it, how to solve for different lengths and we had talked about some practical uses.  Next year I would like to try teaching Pythagorean Theorem by using Barbie Zip Line instead of using it to support what we have learned.  There is definitely the discovery portion which is extremely valuable.

Day one was calculating three different zip lines.  One where Barbie would die, one where she would be bored and one that she would have the most fun and come back for more.  They were able to create all three, but the challenge was what really is fun and what would severely injure or kill Barbie.  These were often very similar looking and were based on student opinion.  What to do....

We had two block days for the activity.  Day one was doing the math and then doing "test runs" in the classroom with a 7 foot ladder.  Day two were some recalculations based on a new height of 14 feet.  Day two was a bit of a let down.  I had them doing some additional calculations, entering information gathered into a spreadsheet and running Barbie down the line, but still something was missing.

After some time to reflect and a request to share my experience with @jstevens009 I feel like I have an idea of what is missing.  There is no right or wrong in Barbie Zip Line.  We really don't know if she would survive each trip down.  There is no competition, no conflict and no best.

So how do I build that in.  Some thoughts.... Bigger zip line to start.... Accelerometer to see how many g's Barbie incurs when she arrives at the plaform (round plate weights).  This will give us an idea of whether or not she would be ok, injured, severely injured or dead.  Also timing each of the trips down the zip line to see who can provide the best survivable ride.  Winner gets a dum-dum...

There's an app for that.  You can download an accelerometer for the iPhone.  Do I really want to send my iPhone down a zip line a couple dozen times?  Is there a better option?  Otter Box...  Time to do some homework on accelerometers....