KPU faculty helps take science labs to the links

Wed, Jul 9, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Instead of using the greens for a round of golf, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) faculty helped transform the Vancouver Golf Club’s grounds into an 18-hole science lab for middle school students.

As part of their science curriculum, Heidi Gawehns' eighth grade class from Pitt River Community Middle School became the first 23 students in Canada to experience links-turned-labs – a hallmark of the Washington-based First Green Foundation’s educational program that to date has given 15,000 U.S. students the chance to apply their science smarts outside of the classroom.

The event was sponsored by the KPU turf management program, the Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA), Keso Turf Supplies and the First Green Foundation.

The WCTA, with support from the KPU program, has plans to continue facilitating the First Green program at golf courses, sportsfields and parks across Western Canada.

“Now that we know what’s involved with a First Green event, we can help communicate the program to turfgrass managers,” explained Stan Kazymerchyk, KPU turfgrass instructor and WCTA director, who played a significant role in organizing the first First Green event on Canadian soil.  “Our turfgrass management students will now also learn in class how to use First Green before they move on to their future roles as golf course superintendents and sportsfield managers.”

Over the course of the day, Pitt River Middle School students got to check out a hole-cutting demo, measure greenspeed, study soils and learn how to keep a golf course healthy through sustainable strategies.

“It’s a different dynamic when you take them outside the classroom. We could do the same thing in the class with a bucket of water and some soil and it wouldn’t have the same effect at all,” said Gawehns.

Both teachers and kids were highly engaged and enjoyed the clinic, which also aims to introduce golf into the lives of students and adults.

“I think it’s going to become a pretty popular program, given the enthusiasm of the kids, the feedback from the principal and their volunteers,” said Dave Kennedy, superintendent of the Vancouver Golf Club. “Getting kids involved in golf isn’t really the main goal but it’s certainly a benefit. Many of these kids have never been on a golf course and they have no idea what happens on a golf course.”

Check out a KPU horticulture video that re-caps the event. Additional photos are available on Dropbox.

For more information about KPU’s turf management program, visit: or attend a free information session on July 15 at 6:30 p.m. at KPU Langley (information on website). Learn more about the First Green program by visiting:

Read the story on the Western Canada Turfgrass Association’s site, and on

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Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

Triona King
Communications and Event Specialist
Faculty of Science
t: 604.599.2048

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