When science teacher Adonya Boyle realized that maybe 1 in 5 of her students had ever played putt-putt golf, she decided to incorporate it into her Summer Ignite lessons at Cardinal Valley Elementary. It was a natural fit as the children learned about forces, angles, and basic engineering principles.
The classes watched a couple of short videos on how to play and grasped the meaning of par, and then the students set out to design and construct a dozen holes for a mini golf course in the gym. “All of them look different and that’s great. It’s the same outcome – we’ll all be able to play a game. I feel like we’ve gotten so many things out of it,” Boyle said.
The youngsters repurposed a variety of materials, such as cardboard paper towel holders, foam egg cartons, and flat wooden sticks. They also used colorful squares of felt for the faux grass, and, of course, lots of tape and glue. Working in small groups, the students learned not only about ramps, friction, and obstacles but also about problem solving and compromise.
“You don’t want to make it too hard, but you don’t want to make it too easy,” Boyle said, reminding them that all ages (grades K-5) would play the course. “They don’t even know they’re learning about angles and what will happen when the ball hits,” she added. “It’s getting their brains thinking.”
As they tested their hole, 10-year-old Josiah Robinson and his team decided to add a bumper in one corner to help the ball make a hard right turn. “First we drew it in our journal and then worked on it,” he said, adding, “When you play, you keep trying over and over again, and eventually get good at it.”
Malibu Jack’s loaned putters and balls for the finale so everyone could participate. “Hopefully they’ll remember the fun of playing putt-putt golf,” Boyle said.