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From 3D printing to laser cutting, social media promotion and communicating to building, over the past six months, Director of Maker, Design & Engineering (MDE) Jim Tiffin explored the question with Mount Vernon Upper School students: How might we complete a project that combines all aspects of MDE? Their answer? A mini golf course.

During the first MOD in the Upper School, Mr. Tiffin worked directly with the Innovation Diploma Sophomore Cohort, collaborating with them to design, plan, build, communicate, promote, test, prototype, and run a mini golf course on The Upper Campus Green at Homecoming.

Based on engineering, math, and design learning outcomes, students began the project by conducting research on other mini golf courses, sketching, and prototyping. Additionally, they thought through themes for the course. The cohort broke up into six groups and each put together a prototype of an experience/theme. Then, each group presented their idea to Upper and Middle School students and staff, School administrators, MVXperts, and alumni for feedback. From the feedback they received, the teams came together as one to move forward with one experience – A Journey Through Time.

The chosen idea would showcase the lifespan of a student or family at Mount Vernon. Starting on The Frontier, honoring Preschool, and moving through important and well-known spaces and experiences unique to Mount Vernon, such as Mustang Rally and Graduation, and ending on the ninth hole featuring the MV at 50 logo.

Landon Brice, one of the students who originally pitched A Journey Through Time, shared, “I think when coming up with different ideas with my team, we were able to connect on the idea of a journey through time. When this idea was chosen, I thought it would represent the School experience perfectly.” 

With their theme chosen, it was time for an expedition.

The cohort traveled to Roswell to both learn and play at The Fringe. They took note of how they each played, how the mini golf course there was set up, and they learned that what they were creating as a mini golf course was, in fact, much different than a putt putt course (yes, there’s a big difference!).

What stood out the most during their expedition was that they didn’t keep score. Based on this, they didn’t put much thought into the scoring process as they worked to create their own course for the School.

As they moved forward as a cohort, the students realized that their unique skill set was needed for different parts of the creating process. The worked on teams focused on different aspects of the course – social media and promotion, building, testing, researching.

Mr. Tiffin shared, “It was a big notion and turning point, organizationally, when they realized that different work needed to be done, and the kids who had certain talents gravitated towards certain tasks.” 

Following their expedition to The Fringe, Mr. Tiffin had a surprise for the students. Impressed by what they were working on, the management at The Fringe offered an old piece of their course to the students to build off of – a windmill that would become the well-known MV Clock Tower.

It was so funny when the windmill showed up,” Mr. Tiffin shared. “Once people saw the Clock Tower being built and the turf arrived, people kept saying ‘you’re actually making a mini golf course’ like they hadn’t believed it was real before then.” 

Not only did The Fringe pass along the Clock Tower structure, but they also saved the day for the iDiploma Mustangs late in the game. 

The week of Homecoming, Mr. Tiffin and his students learned that the golf clubs they had ordered wouldn’t make it in time for the pop-up of the course. Being alerted of this news, The Fringe graciously allowed Mount Vernon to borrow their clubs, allowing mini golf to be played on campus as planned.

In addition to the clubs being late, the students were pivoting and finding solutions right up until the course opened.

The final hole of the course showcased the MV at 50 logo, but they realized that the carpet they had cut to cover it slowed the ball down too much. At the last minute, students were able to quickly pivot in order to keep the balls moving quickly and smoothly on the ninth hole.

When the course was finally opened, the energy and excitement was palpable.

The students were glowing,” Mr. Tiffin said. “The first time a student hit the ball up the ramp on The Frontier hole, everyone cheered. They did it!”

With the mini golf course project being complete, one question remained: what happens to all of the building supplies and structures used? What will everything be once it’s done being what it was?

For that answer, you’ll have to stay tuned for what iDiploma and MDE at Mount Vernon has coming up next!

Congratulations to Mr. Tiffin and the Grade 10 Innovation Diploma Cohort for a Homecoming memory that will be lasting for so many Mustangs.

Students involved in this project were: Ben Bastek, Sarah Beard, Jack Blitch, Bennett Bogdanchik, Landon Brice, Sydney Brice, Audrey Brown, Lawson Byers, Sebe Calvo, Hadley Carey, Maddox Chasman, Matthew Collins, Claire Davis, Cadyn Dawson, Locke Dimmock, Jake Dunbar, Brayden Ebert, Rory Hansen, Reagan Hickey, Henry Houghton, Kate Hurd, Burak Inel, Cate Jacobsen, Curran Jolly, Joe Srinivasan, Amy Strudwick, Audrey Thompson, Sydney Tiffin, Henry Walmsley, and Stephan Yazvinski.

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