The University of Findlay’s Euler (pronounced Oiler) Math Club took its popular Barbie bungee jumping competition on the road to the Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich., on March 3.
The conference allowed undergraduate students across the region to gather and present research. It was attended by 12 schools from Michigan and Ohio. During the conference, eight UF Euler Math Club students hosted and competed in the Barbie bungee jumping competition.
Euler Math Club began hosting the competition on UF’s campus in 2007. It has grown from a club competition to an event that drew 80 participants last year.
During the event, teams of two or three students were given a Barbie, a handful of rubber bands and a calculator. They began by measuring the distance the Barbie falls when connected to one or two rubber bands.
Then, they used a linear regression formula to determine how many rubber bands they would need for the actual drops, which took place off a balcony at the school. The teams with the Barbies that fell closest to the ground without touching advanced to the next round.
Twenty-two teams participated at the conference, and Siena Heights University walked away with the bronze Barbie prize.
Logan Opperman, senior pure mathematics and applied mathematics major and PR officer for Euler Math Club, and Mike Homsher, senior applied mathematics major with an emphasis in engineering science, both agree that the event gave students an opportunity to use their mathematic skills in a fun setting.
“It’s an application of what we do in the classroom,” says Opperman. “In the classroom, it’s all theory but when we do this event, it’s an opportunity to actually do some math with a real-world application.”
Homsher says that the event brings out the competitive side in many people.
“It’s something people get excited about and that makes them want to be good at math,” says Homsher. “The better they do in their calculations, the more likely they are to win, so it’s a good challenge in that way.”
The competition is an annual event at UF and will return during the fall 2012 semester. All students are welcome to participate.
By Katie Baumgart