I got most of my 20-plus Barbies from eBay, and I make good use of them. I use the Barbies with my 6th graders when we study proportions, and with my algebra students we do the Barbie Bungee activity when we study linear equations.

The students work in groups of three, one Barbie per group. They take various measurements of Barbie from head to toe, then they take the same measurements of someone in their group. (I did this activity with math teachers, and a couple of teachers were concerned that students may not wish to be measured. I’ve done this activity for the last seven years, and if anything, the kids want to volunteer to have their measurements taken.)

I then assign one measured body part to each group — group 1 has “feet,” group 2 has “waist to ankle length,” group 3 has “head height,” group 4 has “legs,” etc. Students now take the ratio of their group’s assigned human body part to that of Barbie’s. Students then multiply ALL of Barbie’s measurements by this ratio, and they sketch their “humanized” Barbie based on these scaled up numbers.

This is one of the 10 posters that will go up in our school’s cafeteria.

What my kids wrote in their reflections on this activity:

The Barbie was weird. Mrs. Nguyen was right, Barbie does look like a freak in human form.

We did a life-sized Barbie and my group got “feet,” so that meant she was super tall.

Also that Barbie project is very fun but creepy at the same time. Barbie was freakishly disproportionate.

Our Barbie’s feet were REALLY small.

We did a really fun project with Barbie. I learned a lot about proportions because of it.

People were really creative with their Barbie; our Barbie’s name is LOLA! She is cute.

We work on Barbie and it was weird because Barbie is so weird. My group messed up and now Barbie is messed up, it doesn’t even look like Barbie.

We had an insane task! We had to see what Barbie looked like in human form and she’s a FREAK! It was pretty fun to do though.

Barbie was a hard, hard, hard challenge. She is so tall if we did her legs for our body part it will be so long.

[Updated 02/09/12]

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