Materials World Modules

An Inquiry & Design-Based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Program

Sports - Golf Course

Golf Course
 Springman Middle School, Glenview, IL



Learning by Design

"The kids had a great time, learned a lot, and this is something that they will NEVER forget," said Miss Wendy Olsen of her students' experience in creating the "Jigsaw Mini-Golf in Candyland." This culminating project was inspired by the final design project for the MWM Sports Materials module unit.


Twenty-four student groups designed (and redesigned several times!) a complete 9 hole mini-golf course, and even several practice holes. The goal was to create a sturdy, colorful, and fun "Candyland"theme golf course that used the technology of at least 3 simple machines, and was
fairly challenging, but not so difficult as to prevent a hole-in-one. Having completed the exploratory activities leading up to the design project, her students, she said, "were able to use a more scientific vocabulary when talking about the materials that [were] used for the golf course (i.e. elasticity, density, etc.)."


Enthusiasm was not hard to generate. Miss Olsen saw that her students "were totally jazzed about our common goal as a class. They had a blast every day, and the kids who were often unsuccessful were suddenly the greatest students." What seemed to really worked was the fact that the unit was conducted in a fashion similar to the way a project would be run in the real world. "The kids even wrote up resumes to get the jobs they got," she said. "They worked every day and did homework every night for 'money' (points for the grade), and they were even required to put in a little overtime."

Broad Benefit

On Dec. 20, 2000, Miss Olsen and her students invited the whole school, as well as their family members, to play a round or two of golf -- for a small "entrance fee" of $1.00 (practice holes for $0.25). This student-run, one-day event not only provided a fun and educational experience for Miss Olsen's students, but also raised money for charity. All proceeds went toward the Debra Gefland Memorial Fund, a fund that directly benefits needy families in her district (District 34). The $490 that was collected went toward helping poor families in Glenview, IL, obtain new clothes, medical attention, and food. Thus, this mammoth undertaking was a great success on many levels.


Waiting Line:

Kids from the whole school were lined up to play "Jigsaw Mini-Golf in Candyland." Overall, the golf course raised almost $500 for charity!


The mini golf course was a huge success! Kids had fun building it and playing with it.

The practice holes could be played for $0.25 a shot.

If golfers got a hole-in-one at a practice hole, they won a gel pen!

In the "Rock Bottom" hole #1, golfers had to hit the ball with the right amount of force to get it into the cup, which was situated on an uphill slope.

This hole used a swinging pendulum as an obstacle to the cup.

Hole #2 had many inclined planes -- as well as a "water hazard" -- to contend with.

Golfers hould try to get the ball into the middle pipeline for a hole-in-one. The pipes were narrow, but a ball could still fit through, providing an added level of difficulty.

Watch out for that water hazard! This hole was one of the more difficult ones at which to get a hole-in-one.

Using colored paper instead of water was a creative alternative -- and much less messy!

The "Confetti Confectionary" hole #3 utilized the technology of an inclined plane, a first-class lever, and wedges.

If golfers could get the ball to roll on the lever (covered in foil), they had a better chance of getting a hole-in-one.

The ballons and confetti at this hole gave it special appeal.

Wedges and inclined planes were a major part of hole #4; it was the most fitting one for the "Jigsaw Mini-Golf in Candyland" theme.

Only fake candy was used, so as not to attract any critters. Overall, this hole had very sturdy construction.

The pinwheels at the front of the hole utilized a wheel and axle.


The large black rubber bands that lined the edges of the course made for some interesting bank shots.

The surface texture on the ice-cream cone created more friction on the rolling ball.

If golfers didn't hit the ball hard enough up the hill, gravity would make it roll back down. Too much velocity up the ramp, though, would send the ball sailing over the barrier.

A curved corner wall added to the level of skill needed at this hole.

Golfers could hit the ball either across the green or into the "elevator," which would lead to a more direct route to the cup.

A ball that made it into the elevator had a better chance of a hole-in-one. Once it was hit into the elevator, a nudge was necessary to get it in place for lifting.

Hole #7 utilized the technology of a first-class lever, an inclined plane, and a wedge.

The swinging lever under the rainbow arch was a challenge to avoid.

"Pineapple" hole #8 was the most unique looking hole, and it had the most wedges to contend with. This hole was on an inclined plane.

If golfers could get the ball into the tube, they had a much better chance of a hole-in one.

"Candy Cane Lane" hole #9 had a fake snow-covered surface, which made golfers have to adapt to a different level of rolling friction.

This hole had a series of inclined planes to deal with.

Design Projects

Student Response

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