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."
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.