Olathe 4th-graders receive immersive STEM lessons at golf course

Maintaining the golf course may not be something that golfers think about often, but for groundskeepers, it’s more than just a game. This was made clear to a group of fourth-graders from Olathe during their visit to Heritage Golf Course on Wednesday.

Nearly 50 students from Tomahawk Elementary School had the opportunity to participate in a one-of-a-kind STEM field trip at a local golf course, thanks to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s First Green program. These students were able to engage in hands-on lessons and activities during their visit.

“We aim to introduce children to the world of golf and integrate STEM education into their learning experience,” explained Ethan Shamet, the superintendent of Heritage Golf Course. “Our objective is to demonstrate that our work goes beyond maintaining the grass; we engage in scientific and technological practices, as well as mathematics.”

During the lesson, students had the opportunity to explore the crucial role that bugs and worms play in maintaining the health of the grass. Under the magnifying glass, they closely examined pill bugs, also known as roly polys, and centipedes.

The moment the worms emerged, a bucket overflowing with plump nightcrawlers, the screams erupted.

Quinn Ulsh, a fourth-grader, shared his experience of handling the worm, saying that it didn’t feel pleasant. Despite the grossness, he found it fascinating to observe the wriggling bugs and learn about them.

Students were educated about the dietary habits of worms and how their excrement contributes to enriching the soil. This valuable knowledge highlights the significance of worms as an ally for golf courses and lawns alike.

“The poop was absolutely gross, but as soon as he managed to get it out of his hands, there were about 20 people who reacted with a mix of shock and amusement,” shared Millie Chapman, a fourth-grader. “It was quite funny to witness.”

I also found it to be a valuable learning experience.

Quinn expressed his excitement about discovering that sand is used for the green fields instead of regular soil and dirt. He found it fascinating to learn that sand is smoother than dirt and soil. This new piece of information left him pleasantly surprised and eager to learn more.

The participants also learned about water quality, the tools used by groundskeepers, techniques for measuring irregular shapes, methods for determining the speed of the greens, and strategies for putting.

Students also engaged in a friendly competition to determine which team could saturate the grass the most, using soil-moisture meters.

Millie expressed her surprise, saying, “I thought the hula hoop would effectively contain the water within the circle, but it didn’t work as well as I expected.”

Now, Quinn, Millie, and their classmates have acquired new knowledge, which was the ultimate objective.

“Helping these kids and witnessing their enthusiasm as they learn and generate new ideas is truly rewarding,” shared Shamet. “The best part is seeing their smiles and knowing that I am making a positive impact on their lives. Maybe, in the future, we will inspire someone to pursue a career as a golf-course superintendent.”

The field trip on Wednesday to Heritage Golf Course was a huge success.

Millie enthusiastically shared that the recent field trip she went on was one of the best ones she had experienced in a while. According to her, the reason behind this was her immense love for golfing, which she considers to be her absolute favorite activity.

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MBS Staff
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