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Golf course contest drives creativity of Spicewood students

Spicewood Elementary School

Students at Spicewood Elementary were asked to create miniature golf courses out of various household items for a competition in the school’s MakerSpace workshop. Courtesy photo

Spicewood Elementary School students designed miniature golf courses using cotton balls, popsicle sticks, and other household items on May 3 in the school’s MakerSpace workshop. The project was organized by Gifted and Talented instructor Cari Orts, who helped guide kindergarten through fifth-grade students through the process of making the functioning model courses. 

Only projects by third- to fifth-grade students were judged in the competition. Each of the judged courses had to include three obstacles: a hill, a cylinder, and a flagpole at the hole. Submissions were also required to have a cohesive theme, bumpers, and a rebound point. Students used the miniature golf course at Putters & Gutters in Marble Falls as inspiration. 

Work on the projects began Feb. 22.

“Students researched courses, planned on paper, and then started construction,” Orts said.

The overall winner was Tropical Beach by fifth-graders Bridgette Wilde, Addison Willins, and Helen Suazo-Cruz.

“The students were very enthusiastic and proud of their work,” Orts said. “They were excited to describe their process and how they thought through their design from start to finish.”

In the fourth-grade competition, the Rainforest of Frogs course, designed by Addi Ross, Julieta Lopez, and Levi King, came out on top. Creative yet challenging, the course used animals and natural obstacles to make life difficult for make-believe golfers.

“Their favorite part was that they did it together,” Orts said. “They enjoyed making texture on a tree. The tree had fallen over, which made it where you have to hit the ball through the tree to get to the hole.”

The top course among the third-graders was Pet Land, made by Addy Weathers, Ava Baugus, and Maia Hernandez. The group’s love of animals helped guide design decisions, Orts said

“They loved making the animals,” she explained. “They learned how to adjust when mistakes were made.”

Volunteer judges were David Wayland, Zachary Herrington, Gordon Eicher, Michael Fruge, Kirk Knussmann, and Carol Birsa. 

Orts invited them to the campus to increase student involvement in the competition.

“I have found that sharing our projects with the outside world increases student engagement and project quality,” she said.

The project was part of the school’s MakerSpace program, which offers students hands-on learning opportunities that involve critical thinking and creativity. It has been funded by grants from the Marble Falls Education Foundation for the past four years. 

Previous MakerSpace projects include cobbling shoes that were auctioned off to raise money for the Highland Lakes Crisis Network and creating handmade restaurant models to pitch business concepts to industry professionals.