Putting holes in math is no fun theory

Some fifth-graders at Alvin Elementary built a playable miniature golf course to help them understand math as well as other subjects in Barbie Hicks math class. Shown from left to right are, front row, Kately Moore and Kaelyn Guevara; back row, left to right, are Lane Martinez, Hicks and Kylie Garcia. (Staff photo by David Money)

An Alvin Elementary math teacher scored a hole-in-one with her students when she came up with a project to show them how math has application outside the classroom.

“This started out as a way to relate math to real life,” said Barbie Hicks, who teaches the subject. “I was wondering what can I do to interest my fifth-graders.”

She did some research, came up with a plan and was ready to build a course, a golf course in this case.

The students studied geometric shapes and put what they learned together to build a 14-hole, playable miniature golf course.

But it wasn’t just ’rithmetic used in the project. There was also creativity involved, she said.

“I had them incorporate every aspect of education such as reading, history and science,” Hicks said.

Another aspect was get the students not to fear math and to ease the “struggle” some have in learning it.

When she was the students’ ages, she said she was one who struggled with the topic.

“I told my father one day: I am never going to understand math,” she said of a time when she was first studying fractions.

She said her dad then pulled out a tape measure and used it to show her how fractions work. He used the marks on the measure to show her what a half inch, quarter inch and 

so on looked like on the tape measure. That worked for her, she said.

“I don’t want them to hate math. I want them to remember fifth-grade math as a good time,” Hicks said.

Her students got the message.

“I learned that math can not only be fun, but easy if you try,” said Kaekyn Guevara, 11.

Her team designed a golf hole with an ocean theme that featured sail boats and a turtle.

“We used pool noodles and paper palm trees,” she noted.

Kylie Garcia, 10, and her team designed a far-out golf hole.

“We decided to go with an alien theme,” she said of the hole called Alien Invasion that had planets and, of course, an alien on it.

“We were going for summer fun,” said Katelyn Moore, 10.

“I helped design it. That is the beach house,” she said looking at a dominant brown structure that wasn’t on stilts that was part of Summer Time Hole No. 12. “Seanna Hilton, with the help of YouTube, did the leaves.”

Lane Martinez, 11, said his group was also thinking about fun.

“My favorite ride is the roller coaster,” he said. “We built the roller coaster out of pool noodles,” he said.

“I learned that math could be fun, as well as could other subjects,” he said.

Now that the project is done, the course will not be neglected.

“We are donating it to the Light Christian Center. They are going to use it in their vacation Bible schools and other programs for children,” Hicks said. 

(1) comment


Math CAN be fun, and learning math should be an entertaining experience. Sites like https://www.studypug.com/math-6 for math 6 have fun and engaging videos and concepts. If kids hate math at an early age - it's going to be an issue for the rest of their lives.

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