Barbie Bungee – A Guide


Matt and Fawn dressed as Ken and Barbie

It all started at Twitter Math Camp ’15 (#TMC15), when my colleague, J.J. Martinez, participated in the Barbie Bungee workshop presented by Fawn Nguyen and Matt Vaudrey. The math modeling activity became his  #1TMCthing.

To satisfy the #1TMCthing challenge, J.J. had to facilitate Barbie Bungee in at least one class before October 26, 2015. His dilemma:  J.J. had switched positions from Math Coach (for 2 middle schools) to District Instructional Technology Coach (26 schools). His talents are now spread district-wide.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 7.00.33 PM

J.J. getting ready for the bungee jump

That’s where I come in… Together, we hatched a plan to bring Barbie Bungee to Mrs. Paine’s 8th grade classes where our colleague, Tim, joined the mission.

J.J. achieved his #1TMCthing goal. My participation allowed me to introduce Barbie Bungee to a second middle school.

Over the course of two months, 3 Coaches, 5 teachers, 2 schools, 2 sets of administrators and over 500 students participated in Barbie Bungee!!  This journey granted J.J, Tim and me the freedom to reflect on and adjust the flow of the activity as needed.

The following is our more polished guide to Barbie Bungee.


Michael, Me, J.J. and Tim


Day 1: Collecting  and Predicting 

A:  Collecting Data

  1. Students are arranged in teams of 3
  2. Play the video which acts as the activities “hook”.  Click here for video.
    1. Discussion Points
      1. Describe what’s happening in the video
      2. Why would anyone want to bungee?
      3. What makes a great bungee jump (surviving/reliable equipment and height of jump)
      4. How would a company test their equipment?
        1. Students share:  Test bungee cord with a weighted mannequin which is a perfect transition to discuss the materials
    2. While the video played, we passed out the following materials
      1. Data collection form
      2. Measuring tape
      3. Piece of masking tape
      4. 7 rubber bands (pre-bundled).  1 rubber band for harness and 6 for the bungee cord.  (see below)
      5. I created a baggie of pre-bundled rubber bands for each class. (see below)
      6. Show how to make the harness (1, 2 and through).  Wrap the rubber band around the ankles twice and then push through legs.
      7. We purposely waited to pass out the Barbies
      8. IMG_9643 IMG_9646
  3. Clearly state the goal:  Give Barbie a thrilling ride without sending her to the hospital.
  4. Discuss the materials including the appropriateness of interacting with Barbie.
  5. Picking Barbie:  In order to pick a Barbie, groups had to answer a question about the activity’s goal, materials etc…
  6. Once all materials are passed out, groups found an area in the room to simulate Barbie’s “bungee jump” and collect data.
  7. For a few classes we used the following video to discuss where, in Barbie’s fall, we measure and why.
  8. Data collection
  9. In attempt for accuracy, a few groups broke out phones to video the trails in slow motion.


B.  Predicting Rubber Bands

  1. Each group will need one computer
  2. The height of building Barbie will be “jumping” from must be given to the students.  Our teachers provided the height in both inches and centimeters.
  3. Student’s used the Desmos link,, to
    enter their data and predict the number of rubber bands needed for jump

Day 2: The Drop

C. Preparing for the Drop

  1. Data collection forms were passed backIMG_9571
  2. I had created bundles of 10 rubber bands the night before to expedite the bungee cord creating process.
  3. Groups answered a question in order to get their Barbie and predicted number of rubber bands.
  4. Groups created the bungee cord by stringing rubber bands together
  5. Each group received a sandwich baggie for transporting purposes.  Now, I could place all the Barbie bundles in my backpack without fear of tangling cords.

D. The Drop

  1. Once at the drop location, I gathered the kids around and
    ask them the purpose of the masking tape.Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.01.35 PM

    • Above the line:  Barbie experienced a safe but not a thrilling bungee ride
    • Below the line:  The Barbie reached the ideal drop zone to satisfy the “thrilling ride” component.
    • Hit the ground: Barbie’s on his way to the hospital  😦
  2. I climbed up to the top of the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR).
  3. Once on the MPR, I announced which Barbies were jumping.
  4. Those teams moved front and center.  Students were encouraged to video their Barbie’s jump. Rich conversations emerged when students were sharing and comparing videos.
  5. The Drop Contraption was made by J.J. Martinez
  6. Click here to see video of the drop contraption in use.

7. View from the top:

E. The Analysis

  1.  After the drop, we walked back to class and students were given the post-jump questions.
  2. Think-Group-Share:  We gave the students (& teachers) roughly 2 minutes of silent time to respond to question 1. Time started when the room was quiet.  Students were wound up after the drop and the 2 minutes of silence provided the proper environment to reflect on their results. Teachers were not allowed to answer questions during this time –  No distractions :).
  3. At the conclusion of silent time, students shared individual thoughts with their team.  Teams refined their analysis to share whole group.

Day 3 – Curriculum Connection

F. The Connection

  1. After witnessing the drop and observing student excitement, one administrator said “That was fun.  Now what’s the follow up?  How are you connecting this activity to the curriculum?”
  2. Great Question!  I emailed him a link to the post-jump questions.
  3. Students worked on the post-jump questions in their groups. Then we discussed answers as a class.
  4. Depending on when you do this activity, your post-jump questions will vary.  Our students participated in this activity in the fall, therefore they had not dealt with finding the line of best fit – yet.
  5. Our students used the Desmos link,, to estimate their slope and y-intercept.


Other Posts:


About jgvadnais

Instructional Technology Coach. Desmos Fellow. Google Level 1 Certified. SoCal transplant. New Englander at heart. Lover of yoga, dogs, green smoothies and coffee creamer
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3 Responses to Barbie Bungee – A Guide

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