Making math fun as Barbie goes zip-lining off Read Mountain Middle School roof

Project based learning helps students grasp concepts

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – Geometry and math can be hard for students to learn so one local teacher found a fun way to show students the concepts.

Barbie is zip-lining off Read Mountain Middle School.

"Doing these project-based learning opportunities is pretty hard as a teacher to stand back and watch them fail or make mistakes, or have to problem solve on their own because I want to jump right in there and help them out, but really the bigger lesson is having them do that for themselves and use each other as a resource," said Stephanie Hufton, a middle school math teacher at Read Mountain.

Today's lesson is the Pythagorean theorem.

For those of you who forgot that part of school--- it's A squared, plus B squared, equals C squared--- or the length of the long side of a triangle, also called the hypotenuse.

Students planned three zip lines: a safe option, an exciting one, and a combination of safe and fun.

"Doing it on paper you don't really understand it but when you see real-life examples you can kind of understand it more," said Madison Myers, who is in eighth grade.

The fun experiment helps students catch on.

"It was a fresh take on this. It was really easy to learn. It's easier to learn something after you do it than just reading it in a textbook," said Darson Daughtridge, who is also in the eighth grade.

Hufton says this is is a new concept but she's hoping students learn something else, too.

"The bigger picture really is how to work with people in a group -- people who they don't normally work with -- and how to make changes on the fly and problem solve," said Hufton.

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