Golf course becomes science lab for Kalamazoo students

Eighteen Kalamazoo Public Schools high school freshmen went on a field trip to the golf course Monday as part of their summer science program.

First Green pairs school districts with golf courses to teach students about science and technology. Monday was the first time the First Green event was held in southwest Michigan, according to the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA).

The program took place at the Kalamazoo Country Club.

Four STEM lab stations were placed on the greens along the shores of Whites Lake. The labs focused on soils, insects, macroinvertebrates, and water quality and conservation. A fifth station on the putting green gave students from the Kalamazoo Public Schools Summer Math and Science Institute the opportunity to try their hand at golf.

Diane Owen-Rogers is with KRESA. She is also the Southwest Regional Director for MiSTEM.

“It’s something you don’t usually think about when you’re having fun on the golf course, but there’s a lot of math and science that goes into creating a beautiful space and keeping the environment healthy and the ecosystem functioning,” Owen-Rogers said.

A KPS student examines invertebrates on a golf course on July 8.

Jason Raddatz of the Michigan College Alliance said it is important for students to pursue careers in the field.

“They’re doing legitimate science, right? They’re looking at these animals, macroinvertebrates and insects, and they’re making a decision. Hmm… this is a good habitat for them and a healthy ecosystem, where most people wouldn’t expect to find a healthy ecosystem.”

Students who go on the trip will receive high school environmental studies credit for successfully completing the five-week summer program.

Melvin Ferguson was one such student. He called it a “great new experience” for himself and his classmates. He said it was his first time on a golf course.

“I knew it existed, but I had never been inside a country club before,” Ferguson said, adding that it was his first time walking through the facility, which he described as welcoming, pleasant and “very clean.”

Daria Smith agreed. She said that when she was a student at Woods Lake Elementary School, she would pass Kalamazoo Country Club on her way to and from school. She said she always wondered what it was like inside.

“It’s cool, really nice. I love the people here.”

“Smells nice,” Smith added with a laugh.

A similar opinion was expressed by 13-year-old Sam Noakes.

“I think it’s pretty good. I mean, you see a lot of cool stuff, you can putt, and I think it’s pretty good.”

All three students plan to attend Kalamazoo Central High School in the fall.