Finley Sullivan sinks this putt, along the London Bridge through Big Ben into the hole by Beatle dolls. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
By Pete Zamplas- Rugby Middle School had a super fun exploration into geography, culminating in the final week of school with playing on a miniature golf course seventh-grade students designed to reflect 27 foreign countries’ history and culture.
France’s Eiffel Tower is among familiar and gallant landmarks. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
The three-course extravaganza was enjoyed the evening of June 5 by Rugby families and others, as a school fundraiser and world history project. The mini-golf is a first for the school. Each of three courses had nine holes. Europe was in the cafeteria, Africa in the gym, and Asia in hallways on the school’s east side.
World history teacher Neil Cawfield said students designed and crafted landmarks to represent their assigned country, in stages each accompanied by an information page on a stand.
The German exhibit has the Berlin Wall, Bradenburg Gate, a death camp, and (hidden behind it) Moyland Castle. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Beyond that info, at least one student was a “docent” (guide) whose duty was to be near the hole and answer any questions about it. For instance, Katelyn Barron explained the second item for Greece was a World War I
Greek battleship. The first item was the five Olympic rings, connoting the ancient athletic games. She said she was impressed by how Ancient Greece so long ago invented democracy and much in literature, science and athletics that persists in modern societies.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest dormant volcano, is among highlights in the Africa room. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
As a safety precaution, only teachers and other adults only used power tools to shape and assemble the course, Cawfield noted. But students chose how to divide it, where to put toy people or other small items in the way of the shot, and whether those hazards were glued still or (such as plastic cups) could be shot out or into the path.
Each hole’s design team was supplied with two long wooden pieces, each eight by two feet. Typically, one was used as is while the other was cut into two pieces of varying sizes, so there were three sections on the hole. In some holes, the first part was short with a sudden angled deflection. Others opened with a long fairway.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai is represented by students’ six-story tower of Pringles cans. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Each course had at least one extra tall landmark — such as France’s Eiffel Tower (the actual one is 986 feet tall), the Burj Khalifa (2,717 feet high in real life) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania just south of Kenya. Its Uhuru Peak is 19,341 feet above sea level, making Kilimanjaro the tallest dormant volcano. (Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on earth, at 29,029 feet.) Though not as tall, the Great Pyramid was the main feature on Egypt’s hole.
Many young golfers said they enjoyed the United Kingdom’s hole exhibit the best for its cultural artifacts and its water hazard. The UK sections included about its Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). The very last item was a set of four Beatles dolls, as they led the musical British Invasion to revolutionize rock music and youth culture in the Sixties.
Finley Sullivan conquered the water hazard, and said he had a blast doing so. The sixth-grader sank a shot that went over the London Bridge, through a tunnel, into the final Tower of London section and into the hole. His brother Lawson Sullivan helped design the Dubai palace out of cans of Pringles potato chips, that they painted silver.
Germany also wowed the crowd with its features. Its hole is the first one, when entering the cafeteria from the main hallway. It had a replica of the Cold War’s infamous Berlin Wall of 1961 (down in ’89) with graffiti on it, classical-styled Bradenburg Gate (of 1791) that was a gateway into Berlin and later on the border of East and West Berlin. Behind it are toy soldiers, of World War II.
Next was a mini camp representing where Jews were gassed to death. Cawfield said students knew of that genocide in WWII, and how it is a sad but crucial part of Germany’s history. Lastly, on the brighter side, was a neo-Gothic moated Moyland Castle of 1355.
Lydia Rathburn, among this hole’s student designers, said she learned more about German history through many centuries.
Twins Connor and Garrett Poole also gained much. Connor said by working on the Israeli hole, he was amazed to learn two points. One is how Jewish and Arabic people share Jerusalem, and both claim it as an historic homeland. He also was surprised by how many wars Israel had to fight to keep its existence after officially forming in 1948, and how quickly it gained control over several Arabic nations in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Local businesses helped make the Rugby project a reality. Among them, Champion Hills and Boyd Park’s mini-golf course each loaned putters. Teacher Cawfield also noted Lowe’s and Home Depot provided lumber and felt for the putting surface.