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Double Dutch by Francesca, Precious, and Marnicka

We're Francesca, Precious, and Marnicka, and we're jumping for joy whenever anyone mentions Double Dutch. Double Dutch jump roping dates back to the 1600's, and uses two ropes instead of one. Special moves like the washing machine, the mamba, and pop-ups make Double Dutch cool, and competitions keep things interesting! One of the most important things in Double Dutch is to sense the rope's beat. Although you can both hear and see the ropes, it's easy to get distracted by the music, lights, or other kids at a competition. This got us thinking: Does hearing or seeing the ropes have a bigger effect on our performance, or are both these senses equally important?

What did we do?
We used a personal mp3 player to provide a musical distraction for the jumpers. We played a really fast, rhythm-filled song into the jumper's headphones, which had a beat that clashed with the jump ropes' rhythm. Then we did a similar test using a strobe light as a visual distraction.

What did we find out?
We found that some jumpers relied more heavily on their ears that on their eyes to turn out a great Double Dutch performance; our auditory distractions were harder for some girls to ignore than our visual ones. Still, our results showed that we couldn't make a general conclusion. Guess we'll just have to keep on jumping!

What can you do?
  • Try an investigation of the jump rope itself. Get a long piece of rope, maybe about 16 feet (almost five meters) long, and stand about 12 feet away from a friend. Twirl the rope between you, as slowly as possible without letting the rope droop. Count the number of times the rope slaps the floor in a minute. Now step closer, maybe about ten feet apart, and twirl again, as slowly as possible. Count the slaps, and then move still closer. Does the distance between the twirlers affect the rhythm of the rope?
  • Instead of jumping rope, investigate a different kind of jump: the standing broad jump. Make a starting line on the playground with chalk. Gather a bunch of friends, and one at a time, have them stand with their toes at the chalk line and jump as far as they can. Make a mark where their toes land. Measure the distance from the start line to the jump mark. Do taller kids jump farther than shorter ones? What other characteristics might explain why some people jump farther than others?
  • Use this human body investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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