Beavercreek Golf Club and MVGCSA hosts First Green STEM program

By |  December 5, 2017 0 Comments

What started as a local high school teacher watching the 2015 U.S. Open led to more than 100 fifth-graders recently taking a field trip to Beavercreek (Ohio) Golf Club.

“The boys golf coach (Chris Nartker) is also a physics teacher at the high school and he saw an advertisement for the First Green while watching the U.S. Open,” says Zach Wike, assistant superintendent. “So that created an interest in the program, and last summer he brought that information to me. I sit on the board of the Miami Valley Golf Course Superintendents Association (MVGCSA), and as a board it was a goal to host a First Green event in our area for our chapter and be able to give back to our community.”

The First Green is a Washington-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and outreach program that uses golf courses as an environmental learning lab for students, according to the company.

Nartker started the planning process by reaching out to all of Beavercreek’s fifth grade teachers last spring, and one at Trebein Elementary contacted Wike to set up the program.

On Oct. 23, 125 Trebein students were split up into groups of about 20 and rotated between six stations around the property that varied from soil sciences to environmental science to swing lessons to math.

At the soil science station, the students completed a sieve test with a bucket of soil, sieving the particles so they could see the different types of soil. There was also a water percolation test where they could see how water moves through different types of soil.

There was another station involving area and volume measurement where students measured the area of a tee box with a measuring wheel and calculated the volume of a golf cart bed. Then they rotated to a putting green where each received putting lessons and participated in a putting contest. The students also got a golf course etiquette lesson at that station, where they also learned general etiquette and how to repair ball marks, according to Wike.

From there they traveled to a station about the tools and technology that superintendents use on a daily basis. There Beavercreek GC’s mechanic taught them how a reel cuts grass, went over mowing heights and then demonstrated golf technology, including moisture meters, soil probes and cup cutters. Wike says the students were then able to get a hands-on experience and use some of the equipment too.

At the environmental sciences station, the fifth-graders learned about environmental stewardship and the habitats that golf courses provide for animals, from a volunteer at Beavercreek GC that is involved with Ohio Bluebird Society and monitors bird houses on the course. Finally the students moved onto the driving range and had a chipping lesson.

Fourteen volunteers helped out at the event, including nine superintendents from the MVGCSA.

Feedback from the teachers at Trebein about the program has been positive, according to Wike.

“They told me that it was great to be able to show the students that what we learn in the classroom is used in real life, especially in the soil sciences and the volume and area measurements,” says Wike. “After seeing geometry being used outside of the classroom they told me that back in the classroom it helped them come up with other situations that they would use it in the future. They loved getting the kids on the golf course.”

Wike adds that the teachers at Trebein enjoyed it so much that they are already planning on returning next fall for another First Green field trip. Beavercreek GC is hoping to see this class of students in the near future and sent a handout to Trebein that overviewed the course’s junior golf program.

The MVGCSA is looking to expand the program and hopefully have a second First Green event at another course in the area.

“One of the things we talked about was having an event at another facility in the area next year and involve a different age group. The goal is to host one in the spring and another in the fall,” says Wike. “It’s a great thing for the community and long-term it’s going to continue to build interest for this industry.”

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