Prime the Pump – Barbie Bungee

The year is wrapping up. My students’ last day is next Friday, our final exam is behind us, and tomorrow they will be finished their final exams and projects in all of their classes, with the exception of presenting science fair projects next week.

I’m going to wrap up the year with Barbie Bungee, and I’m getting pretty excited about it. So today, when several students said they didn’t have any homework to work on during study hall because they were taking tests in the morning, I had one student run to my office to grab my box of rubber bands.

We ended up watching a few bungee jumping videos and dropped my water bottle and a stuffed cougar a bunch of time — first just from head height, and then we figured out how to create a little cantilever diving board on top of the projector using a bin of calculators and a ruler (really should have gotten a picture of that one). The kids figured out how to get Coco the cougar as close as possible to the floor without touching by trial and error, and couldn’t get enough of watching him jump again and again. they were particularly worried that he was hitting his head ricocheting against the Smartboard on his way back up.

This was totally impromptu, but has made me feel awesome about doing the actual project next week. The two things that can most derail a project like this — students being apathetic or confused about the point — have been partially mitigated. Several students from each of my classes are now pumped about bungee jumping, know how to tie rubber bands together, and understand why it’s important that Barbie gets really close to the floor but doesn’t quite hit. I can solve all of those problems with a strong hook and clear directions when we actually do it, but it felt great to do a no-consequences trial run with everything — and I got some quick feedback on which bungee jumping videos will be best to open class with!

Formative assessment, right?

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