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If they build it, they will putt: Kindergarteners build mini-golf course

Arlington Elementary students create and play to learn science

A hush falls over the room. Trevonta, a kindergartener at Arlington Elementary School, steps over the ball on hole three, the infamous loop-de-loop that had been giving players trouble all day. He lines up his putt and swings, landing a fantastic shot right near the hole to cheers and laughs from his classmates. They clearly understand what it takes to navigate such a challenging hole of mini-golf. 

And they should: they created the course themselves!

The unique and fun experience of designing and constructing a miniature golf course was part of a multi-month science unit in teacher Rebecca Adams’ kindergarten class - a part of City Schools’ elementary science curriculum. Her students researched, planned, and built six mini-golf holes while exploring science and physics principles like force, inertia, recycling, and friction. Each hole had constraints requiring students to demonstrate understanding of pushes, pulls, and motion.

Students with their mini golf holes

“Students had an absolute blast with the unit,” recalled Adams. “I’m a big believer in letting kids learn through play, with their hands, and in groups. The experience made them excited about learning and they took ownership of what they were doing. They are so impressive - it was powerful to see.” 

The process began with field research. Students took a trip to a mini golf course to make real-world connections by seeing one in person, explore the set up, and, of course, play.

“I try to expose my students to as many experiences, ideas and things as possible,” explained Adams. “Every day, I want the kids to go home and be excited about what they did. This experience did that.” 

After the field trip, students created blueprints of the holes they envisioned, listing out the necessary materials and dimensions for the holes. “I talked to them about how this is somebody’s job, and we explored what it meant to be an engineer,” added Adams. 

Students with their mini golf course

Using cardboard, rocks, sand, toilet paper rolls, glue and construction paper, students worked in groups of four to seven to bring their blueprints to life. The unit culminated with a full day golfing event in the school’s auditorium

The impact of this fun and powerful learning experience was clear. “Every week, my students ask about playing mini-golf again,” said Adams with a laugh. “I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

We can't wait to see the 2nd Annual Arlington Open! 

 

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