Desmos Activity Builder (thanks to Andrew Stadel for helping to make it better)
Reflections from the previous year.
Reflections from my first year.
Collection of all reflections.
As I watched Ms. Burt's students fly kites and determine angles of elevation, the itch started to return. It had been nearly a year since anyone had asked, and I had no way of doing it unless someone did. But then... it happened.
"Would you want to come and do Barbie Zipline with my students?"
Why yes, yes I would.
"Hey, could Ms. Miller and my class do it, too?" asked Mr. Flores.
Yes. Ohhhhhhhhh yes.
Setting the Table
"You'll see. Just trust me; it'll be worth it."
On the logistics side, Ms. Burt had already taught Pythagorean Theorem and Angle of Elevation in her Integrated Math-II class and the Miller-Flores combo had already taught Pythagorean Theorem in their Integrated Math I Tutorial classes. Academically, the students were prepped.
Ms. Burt checked with the football coach to make sure we could use the football field for the day, and outside of a strange look when the request to "use the field for Barbie Zipline" came through, there were no issues. After all, he was just as curious as the students.
Day 1: The Instruction
On a programming note, I chose to use the Teacher Pacing feature of Activity Builder, just so I could control a bit more of the narrative. This lesson relies on the story just as much as the mathematics, so I wanted to make sure the students all understood the entirety of what was happening.
First, we had to make my mom and wife happy before I went ziplining, so the students drew a "really safe" line.
They graphed the desired path, then found the amount of line that would be needed (Pythagorean Theorem or Distance Formula) and the Angle of Elevation.
Mixed in all of this math were some very good commentary:
Day 2: The Zipline
When students arrived, I checked with each person who had a job to make sure they knew what they were doing and that they were ready:
- Runners had comfy shoes on
- Photographers and videographers were taking their pictures and video in landscape mode--NO VERTICAL VIDEO!
- Timers had a smart phone and knew how to use the stopwatch
- Deckhand knew how to work the pulley and carabiner
- Finish line anchor knew how to hold the bat and the line
- Line holder knew that the job was pretty lame, but that he/she would be holding the line tight when we needed it and let it sag when we didn't
- Documentarians knew what they were writing down
We good? Let's GO OUTSIDE!!!
As nature would have it, the day we go outside was the hottest out of this whole 2017, up to that day; go figure. I had applied sunscreen and wore comfortable clothing, but nothing changes the fact that I was standing on metal bleachers all day.
We tested each group's parameters, one at a time, for a total of 10-12 trials per class period. Everyone did their job the way they were supposed to, nobody got hurt, and some Barbies had fun, while others died.
We made our way back to the classroom where the final question was posed:
Let's say this company in Las Vegas approached you and said they wanted a 3,000 foot zipline. You can't hand them a cute drawing and expect a contract, so based on your data, what would be a good starting and ending height? Why?
This is a piece of closure I hadn't done in years past, so I'm happy to know that there was something the students were doing with the data, rather than ending the lesson and moving on.
- Find a new variable for the horizontal distance. "Kids these days" went and ruined the variable D for everything in math. No longer can I ask a class full of teenagers to "find the D" in the problem or tell them that "a longer D is not necessarily going to be more fun"... GAH!
- Re-visit the Activity Builder lesson. It was good, but I want it to be GREAT. Not sure how I can do that right now, but it'll get adjusted before the next time I do this.
- Bring in my own dolls. I'm hesitant on this because I want students to have ownership of the object that gets flung down 170 feet of fishing line, but some students were bringing in objects that were just too light. If I can control that and keep it consistent, I think we would get better data.
- Put a smaller cap on the maximum distance the zipline can travel. Students naturally think that the longer the line, the more fun it will be. The truth is that fishing line is very elastic, and having that much of it out there means that there is a lot of stretch. Keeping the upper bound to 120 feet instead of 150 would mean more students seeing their representative have fun and not just play it safe.
- Check with all parties to ensure the space we are using is clear. As I had mentioned, the football coach was made aware, but we forgot to ask the PE teachers and the track coach if the track was going to be used. Oops. We had to change a couple of the dimensions to make sure PE students didn't get tripped up by nearly-invisible fishing line and that's no fun.
Overall, it was an amazing two days. I'm exhausted, my feet hurt, and my voice is almost gone, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy "Zipline" Fishing