Burbank’s Arts For All foundation (BAFA) funded a mini-golf course design project for teacher Nancy Martin’s three eighth grade Geometry classes at John Muir Middle School in December. Working in groups of three, 86 students designed and then built miniature golf holes, complete with obstacles and requiring at least one angled shot. Students spent a few class periods constructing their mini-golf projects and two top designs were announced on the last day of school, December 19.
Students first sketched a miniature golf hole design, mindful of square feet constrictions, and were required to use a certain amount of geometric shapes and angles. After making a scale drawing of the project, they figured out how much the wood for the side boards and the carpet for the floor would cost. Then they built their 3-D model using foam board, green felt, straws, string, large popsicle sticks, construction paper, magic modeling clay, tape and glue. Some kids brought in items, like trees, farm animals, characters, colored felt, paint and other decorations, to add to their projects.
“I usually try to do a project with my Geometry students around this time of year and I had always done Tessellations with them which incorporates art with geometry,” commented Martin. “One day over the summer, I saw a mini-golf project mentioned in my National Education Association newsletter so I investigated.”
The top two projects out of all three classes were chosen by Martin and school principal Dr. Greg Miller, based on correct scaling of the design drawing to the 3-D model and the fun quotient of the mini-golf hole design.
“The kids had to learn how to deal with two other kids on this project and had to decide who was going to work on what part. They had to learn how to communicate their ideas with each other as well as explain the reason their project should be chosen in written form,” Martin highlighted as some of the educational and Common Core-related aspects of the project. “There obviously was a lot of math involved too, a lot of measurement and scaling. Many had not played miniature golf before, so I showed a video demonstration and an in-class demonstration on shooting and banking your shots with my daughter’s Barbie golf set.”
Burbank Unified School District, along with public schools across the state and the country, are making the transition to Common Core, a set of national education standards emphasizing deeper study on fewer topics within each subject. Inter-disciplinary methods are encouraged, such as the mini-golf hole project combining art and construction with mathematic principles, illustrating the application of geometry in a hands-on approach.
“Common Core standards require that students go beyond simply mastering a skill and into using that skill creatively, to problem solve in a variety of situations, and innovate,” commented Peggy Flynn, BUSD Arts Coordinator, who helped Martin write a grant proposal to BAFA for funding for project materials. “Nancy guided the kids through the process of designing and creating a scale model of a miniature golf course using geometric and algebraic tools and principles.”
“I think I was the only math teacher to ever ask for a grant,” added Martin. She noted that BAFA funded the entire project with a $645 grant and the materials purchased for the project totaled about $650.