From “Cinderella and the Beanstalk” to “Bizarre-ville” and “Mystery Maze,” Wellington students are combining creativity and cardboard to build a colorful and imaginative miniature golf course out of recyclable materials.
Laura Trubilowicz, third- and fourth-grade learning guide, said the current project for students in grades one through four is to build a miniature golf course that “must be playable, have a theme, include two simple machines and at least one moving part.”
“The golf course will be the ultimate product,” she said. “The power, however, is in the process and the process has allowed students to make meaningful and important connections across all areas of the curriculum.”
The students came up with imaginative themes for each of the course holes, first-grade teacher Mary Beth Parker said.
“Our hole is called ‘Cinderella and the Beanstalk.’ The kids loved working on it and it was a wonderful lesson in collaboration and teamwork,” she said. “It also allowed the students to be creative while integrating our unit on fairy tales. They were given the opportunity to problem-solve, as they found things that didn’t work on the hole and worked together to find a solution.”
Other themes were soccer, puppies, alien in space, wipeout, dance, Atlantis, hero’s fate and Jack and the beanstalk.
Trubilowicz and third-grade teacher Ryan Parsons came up with the golf course idea after watching a YouTube video.
“The video showed how sometimes creativity can be used to enhance traditional classroom learning,” Parsons said. “Our kids had been studying the engineering design process in science, so we continued that and then discussed simple machines, how they are used and what they are used for, before the topic of the golf course ever came up to the kids.
He said students completed job applications such as blogger, machine technician, architect, construction foreman and other positions, then interviewed with Head of School Rob Brisk.
“We had reporters that would take photos, interview students and post daily blog entries highlighting progress and difficulties experienced that day,” Parsons said. “Engineers designed the course by sketching blueprints, designing simple machines and debating whether or not their ideas could actually be built. Finally, the construction team took the design and built the hole.”
Trubilowicz said the design process “provides specific connections to science, math, language arts and technology.”
“As the process unfolds, students evaluate their thinking, behavior and challenges and consider the effectiveness of the plan,” she said “As problems in design and construction occur, the group must work cooperatively to foresee future problems and adapt accordingly.”
She said the finished golf course holes will be placed around the school for anyone to play.
“From an outside perspective, students built a golf course, but throughout this process, Wellington students are developing skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and resiliency that will stick with them forever.”