Students from the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) at Ramapo recently put their research, design, building, and thinking skills to work in creating a fun and engaging indoor “pop-up” miniature golf course on their campus. The course design was the culmination of the students’ research in a variety of areas, including street art and artists, biographies, sports professionals, and animals found in nature.
This was no small feat.
“The research and writing was probably the easier part,” said Constantine Ladikos, a Middle School teacher who collaborated on the project with fellow instructors Meaghan Michael, Jonathan Silver, and Shelbi Babcock. Teaching Assistants Lisa Hunter, Kimberly Trocillito, and Louis Peretta also helped bring the project to life. “Creating a playable golf hole wasn’t as straightforward as the students thought it would be,” Ladikos added.
To make an attractive, playable course, students spent weeks designing, painting, cutting, and constructing the different parts that would work together to create the 3-D golf hole station. Many needed to go back and make modifications to the design so that this was achievable.
“This project took a lot of determination, problem-solving skills, and the ability to overcome frustrations—the same skills they will need to use throughout their lifetime,” Ladikos remarked.
Students invited administrators from Ulster BOCES to take the first swings on the course’s Opening Day. Each student was assigned a different task for the festivities, including serving as a greeter, taking the temperature of each guest, and sanitizing each golf club before another player used it.
Dr. Charles Khoury, Ulster BOCES District Superintendent, was among the first guests to test the course. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jonah Schenker and Assistant Superintendent for Administration Allison Dodd joined him for the honor. After taking her first swing and getting the ball through the first challenging hole, Dodd told the students, “I think the pink ball is a lucky ball.”
Grade 7 student Fateen Akbar, who was the official greeter on Opening Day, designed his golf hole around the art of television host and art instructor Bob Ross. His hole featured a moving sun connected to a remote-controlled rotation device. “Not gonna lie, this project was difficult, but it was also a lot of fun,” he said.
For his part of the project, Grade 10 student William Marshall researched a very large bird of prey called the secretary bird. “In these times, though, it really should be called the Administrative Assistant bird,” he joked.
Besides being a lot of fun, the multidisciplinary project taught students other important life skills, such as teamwork and community-building. After learning and understanding the rules of the game, they needed to work together as they applied them in arranging the course. Holding an Opening Day event offered another opportunity for the students to function as a team and apply career-related skills. “Being the greeter gave me butterflies in my stomach,” said Akbar. “But once it was over, I was very proud of myself.”
Assistant Principal Tonya Griffiths had high praise for those involved in creating the golf course. “Watching both students and staff collaborate on such a wonderful project, in which they were able to dream, design, and ultimately create an interactive mini-golf course, was amazing,” she said. “It also provided our students the opportunity to learn the basics of golf, something they can play throughout their lives.”
Plans call for the school to leave the course up, so that other students may try their hand at golf.