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A hole-in-one for Year 7 Science

Most of us have had the pleasure of playing Putt-Putt (or mini golf), but unlike our Year 7 Science students, not many of us have designed an actual course.

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The Science Department challenged Year 7 to ‘putt’ their thinking caps on and work in groups to design a moveable Putt-Putt course that could be used in schools and in community-based activities. But there was a catch! Rather than create a course so challenging that people struggled to get the ball in, the students had to come up with a design that would allow people to get a hole-in-one first time.

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The students had to come up with a hypothesis and then test it out, recording their findings as they progressed through each stage. While they had already explored basic dynamics in their Science lessons, their Science teachers encouraged them to think outside the square by exploring different scientific concepts.

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They soon discovered that golf is hard and that getting that little ball into that not-so-big-cup is a lot more difficult than Karrie Webb makes it look. And attempting to achieve the Holy Grail of golf - sinking a hole-in-one - is extremely hard indeed!

Science Teacher, Ms Quinn said, “The task is purely to encourage the students' thinking characteristics, persistence, resilience, and creativity, rather than simply seeking the information and answers from me. The students have a series of investigations and mathematical problems to carry out throughout the whole project and cannot produce a design purely from trial and error. There are no wrong answers. The students can solve the problem with whatever set of investigations they feel necessary.”

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The Science Department worked closely with Gifted and Talented Teacher, Mr Rigg, to develop the task. He wanted the students to work on a problem that has an impact on the real world. “Problem Based Learning was developed in the United States to train doctors how to solve and resolve complex real-world problems. This approach to learning presents students with an imperfect problem that requires them to draw upon their prior knowledge, identify what they do and do not know about the problem, collaborate, and ask questions that they need to answer before determining a course of action to resolve the problem. Therefore, this process encourages growth in students’ self-efficacy because they need to think critically and creatively when determining their own responses to problems which have no one correct answer. Problem Based Learning also promotes in-depth conceptual learning because students explore ideas, in this case ‘force’, through an imperfect problem that requires experimentation, and skill development in collaboration with peers and guidance from teachers.”

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The students approached the task with great excitement, working collaboratively together to find different ways to refine their design. It was great to see the different concepts they came up with, and their resilience and versatility when they encountered stumbling blocks.

According to statistics, golfers play approximately 450 million rounds of golf each year and around 128,000 holes-in-one are registered every year. Thanks to our Year 7 Science students, those odds are now slightly more favourable!