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REL T-STEM Students Design Campus Golf Course

STEM students build putt putt course

T-STEM students measure a miniature golf course on a recent research field trip to inspire ideas for their own courses.

REL T-STEM Students Design Campus Golf Course

By Beth Dombrowa

It’s well known that engineers are instrumental in the design and construction of buildings, pipelines, bridges and automobiles. However, engineers also play a role in our recreational activities, as students at Robert E. Lee High School are learning as they work together to design and construct a 9-hole miniature golf course for their classmates to enjoy on campus.

Five teams of 10 students in Misty Coyle’s Introduction to Engineering class, most of whom are also enrolled in the T-STEM Academy, have developed creative concepts for a putt-putt golf course, using the knowledge and skills they’re learning in class. Members of the teams are not all in the same class period, so they have to collaborate virtually, just as an engineer working on a large scale project would likely have to do.

“Engineers who are working together to solve a problem or design a project may live all over the world,” Coyle said. “One of the goals of the class is to have the students begin thinking like an engineer and working through barriers to complete an assignment.”

The students begin the project by generating concepts of a theme for their miniature golf course, and they came up with ideas and used a decision matrix to come to a consensus as a team. The themes this year are Superheros, Sports, Space, Skate Park, and Around the World. The next step was sketching multi-view drawings on graph paper. Then, they create to make a blueprint for their golf course in Inventor, a Computer Automated Drafting (CAD) program that is a major part of the course.

“The project is actually cross-curricular, and it’s incorporated in the classes that these T-STEM Academy students are enrolled in,” said Coyle. “For instance, in Biology, they discuss the exercise and health benefits of playing golf, and in English, they work on their presentation skills, both oral and written.”

Recently, the students did a research-based field trip to a miniature golf course in Clear Lake, where they took measurements and got ideas about how to create a course that is both challenging and cost efficient. Those measurements were then incorporated into their Geometry class, where they will discuss trajectory and angles.

The stakes are high for the teams. They will each present their final concept to campus administrators, who will select their favorite. That course will be built and made available for Lee students to play on. It will be a slightly modified version of a miniature golf course, as it will need to be portable so it can be properly stored when not in use. Teams will be judged on creativity, cost, overall presentation and ease to fabricate.

The T-STEM Academy at Lee High School holds students to rigorous standards to prepare them for college and career pathways. Helping the students understand the fundamentals of the Engineering Design Process will enable them to apply these skills throughout their education and into their futures.




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