Science projects on beach erosion

Written by amanda wehner
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Science projects on beach erosion
Educate students about beach erosion. (View of the beach of Caesarea. Old buildings on the beach image by L. Shat from

Beach erosion is a popular topic among elementary school science classes. The disappearance of our coastline is becoming an environmental crisis. There are a variety of activities and projects that can depict this current phenomenon, including experiments that demonstrate beach erosion.

Weather Effects on Beach Erosion

In this project, students can create a simulated model of the weather and human factors affecting beach erosion. Students need a rectangular plastic container, sharp scissors, sand, aquarium gravel, a large tray and a plastic drinking cup with holes poked in the bottom. Fill up the container a third of the way full with sand or gravel, and prop one end of the container up so the water flows in one direction. Use the plastic cup with holes in the bottom to simulate rain by filling it with water and pouring it over the model beach. Watch the effect of the water on the sand, and record observations. Test the aquarium gravel to observe the effect of erosion on larger particles. Compare the data, and draw conclusions about the effect of light rain and storms to determine the effect on beach erosion.

Wave Effects on Beach Erosion

This project allows students to study the effects of waves on the coastline and how that can cause beach erosion. Students need a big, rectangular plastic container, a wooden block, sand, water, a ruler and graduated cylinder or measuring cup. Fill the container with an inch of water, using the graduated cylinder, and add the sand to one end of the container until it rises above the water. Use a ruler to measure how much higher the sand is above the water. Put the wooden block into the other side of the container, and move it to simulate waves for 10 seconds. Now measure the sand level, and record the difference. Draw a representation of the new beach, noting its changes.

Human Effects on Beach Erosion

Students can create a project that examines a specific beach and its erosion rates to examine the effects of humans on our beaches. This project is research-based, requiring students to have access to a library and the Internet. Students choose a popular beach, such as Malibu, that has undergone a great deal of human development over the years. Students can find maps and pictures of the beach from the 1960s to now and compare the beach and its characteristics. Students need to understand map coordinates and study the mean tide differences over time. Students can look for major city developments that occurred that may have contributed to the erosion of the coast. The teacher should emphasise that students will need photographic evidence and must create a logical conclusion about human effects on beach erosion.

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