Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Barbie Bungee as Science Inquiry

I first discovered Barbie Bungee from Fawn Nguyen's blog Finding Ways. And again on the NCTM Illuminations website. It is designed to be a math investigation into linear relationships and proportional reasoning.

At Frank Hurt Secondary, we have a professional cohort that uses a Tuning Protocol to constructively critique and improve projects and activities. I brought to the group a physics lab inquiry activity I had developed about elastic forces that I was not happy with and wanted to tweak. Through the course of that discussion, a colleague reminded me of Barbie Bungee. But in the context of science inquiry rather than math.

I had the privilege of sharing this idea with an amazing group of grade 4 teachers in the Surrey School District. The new BC Science Curriculum for grade 4 has this Big Idea - Energy can be transformed. Barbie Bungee presents a unique, engaging activity to explore energy transformations. Gravitational energy transforms into kinetic energy as Barbie falls. Then the elastic bands begin to stretch and kinetic (and gravitational) energies are transformed into elastic energy as Barbie slows down. Then it is all reversed as she shoots back up. Students can draw simple energy pie charts to track the energy transformations.

Grade 4 teachers exploring Barbie Bungee energy transformations
The wonderful thing about this for grade 4 is the cross-curricular connections. Barbie Bungee has become a science activity but we don't lose the math. The scientific data that students collect will be used to explore linear relationships. We can connect to the new ADST (Applied Design, Skills and Technology) curriculum as students test and improve their bungee design. And we can extend to design something else using elastic energy like a rubber band car.


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