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OT: Larger than life

Posted by zoki 
OT: Larger than life
March 10, 2006 12:36AM
You could say that Christi Walker and Nancy Royalty’s eighth grade math classes have been playing dolls the past couple of weeks.

“We do this Barbie and Ken project every year,” Walker said. “We do it when we’re working with ratios and proportions. We start out with teaching the kids how to recognize ratios and how to develop proportions. Then we use this real world thing. We always find out what Barbie would be like if she was in proportion to a human.”

However, this is the first year the classes have constructed a life size model of their studies. And, what Barbie looks like is anything but human. That point can easily be seen by the seven foot “statue” standing in Walker’s classroom.

The point of the math project is to reinforce the concept of ratios and proportions. Plus, it makes the students think about the image Barbie gives to society. Royalty and Walker said the students worked on the art project after school each day for two weeks. They say the hands-on use of ratio and proportion definitely helped students grasp the concept.

“I heard one boy say, ‘How am I going to find out the measurement to this,’ and another said, ‘You take her measurements and multiply it by 7.5,’” Walker said. “They were teaching each other; we noticed that all through the project. It really does reinforce. They had to use it and reuse it to check for accuracy.

On top of learning a useful math concept, students discussed the image Barbie gives to young girls. Royalty said the students really noticed how impossible it is for anyone to try and look like Barbie.

“There focus was on things like the feet,” Royalty said. “They realized her feet were so little that she wouldn’t be able to stand or walk. Plus, they noticed how tiny her waist was compared to the rest of her body.”

“It’s really neat if we can take math and if it’s not just math,” Walker said. “We learn how to use the math and apply it all different ways. Basically, we said, ‘Take what you know about math and prove your reasoning. Do you think there are any societal implications about Barbie?’ Obviously some people think there are, some think there aren’t, but use your math as that springboard.”

Many of the students concluded after seeing a “real-life” Barbie, that she isn’t that great of a role-model. While, others decided she was just a doll. Despite the varying conclusions, they all can tell you it’s a math project they won’t soon forget.

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