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Mind Your Mini-Golf
June 24, 2009
The New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, recently launched a new astro-attraction: Rocket Park Mini Golf, a valiant educational effort that attempts to teach kids about physics through the joy of amateur putting (And we don’t mean discovering how time seems to stretch out into infinity when stuck behind slowpokes trying to maneuver through a miniature windmill).
Apparently, kids can explore such concepts as weightlessness and geosynchronous orbit by conquering this charming yet awkward hybrid of leisure and learning. Although we figure that most of them ignore the informative signs and simply argue about math concepts such as who is the bigger doofus.
There is a long tradition of trying to educate our youth through mini-golf. Galaxy Golf at The Sciencenter in Ithaca, New York erected a math-and-science themed course with holes devoted to DNA and pollination. (Too bad the name Sciencenter just might undermine elementary-school-level spelling skills.)
Golf on the Village Green in Natick, Massachusetts offers a Revolutionary War design featuring miniature Colonial buildings, cannons, eagles, flags…and par for the course…lots of plaques to read!
At Helldorado Town in Tombstone, Arizona (a Western arcade with informative gunfights) there is a new Mad Miners Miniature Golf Course where people can soak up information about the history of Cochise County between holes. Or not.
The H Street Country Club in Washington, DC, features more recent historical figures, including a giant, defiant, sinking-into-the-floor silver statue of Marion Barry.
Other mini-golf courses teach visitors about various subjects in a more understated and subtle way. You can learn all about mortality at Ahlgrim Acres in Palatine, Illinois—located in the basement of a funeral home. Or if you prefer immortality, Lexington Ice Center and Miniature Golf in Lexington,, Kentucky has a Christian theme (much like the beloved and gone-to-meet-its-maker Golgotha Fun Park in Cave City, Kentucky).
Explore American Folk Culture (or perhaps we should say Classic Ethnographic Stereotypes?) at Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Or stop off at Laurel Cavern’s Kavernputt in Pennsylvania, and you’ll never confuse a stalagmite with a stalactite again. [Post by Anne D. Bernstein]
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