Earth Science at Singing Beach, by John Wigglesworth

170621c-waring-0202.jpgWaring is a school that thrives on the challenge of blending innovation with tradition. The things we do such as, Camping Trip, All-School Meeting, Tutorial, and Soirées are part of our past but equally critical to our future if we are to remain true to our soul and culture as a school. To keep these programs fresh we continually try to think differently about them, cautious of the status quo. All areas of our program are in the constant effort to be innovative with tradition; and one example is the Earth Science Program for Group 1. This fall marks the 15th year of the Singing Beach Project. In that Earth Science helps students understand how the spheres of the land, the ocean, and the atmosphere interact to make our planet function as it does, studying the impact of seasonal weather on the profile of Singing Beach has been a tradition of the Group 1 science for many years. What better place to study to the interaction of land, ocean and weather than the beach?

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In September of each year since 2002, Group 1 science sections use their lab period to conduct a transect study of the beach from the backshore, across the berm, to the waters edge. Along their transect they measure the change in elevation of the beach at 2 meter intervals. Using the computer lab at school and Excel spreadsheets, the students use their measure of the cumulative change in elevation to graph the profile of the beach. In addition they collect sand at the berm and use the Wentworth Sediment scale to evaluate the size and composition of a 100 grams of the sample. In April, students replicate their transect, graph a spring profile of the beach, and collect a spring sample of sand. Students compare and contrast the Fall to the Spring data in a formal lab report and poster presentation. Year after year, the Singing Beach Project gives the 8th grade students the opportunity to participate in authentic research. “What is the effect of seasonal weather on the profile of the beach?” is a real research question. Conducting transects imagejpeg_2on the beach is collecting real data and making sense of the weather conditions over the school year is an ongoing effort to blend observation of the sky with interpretation of weather maps and weather reports. Collecting, organizing, displaying, interpreting, and presenting data is the goal of any statistics course.

Over the years, I have observed the pattern of the beach profile to be consistent with the concept of winter and summer beach; that is, each winter, weather and wave energy is such that it tends to erode the berm and transport the sand offshore and in the summer the more gentile wave energy tends to transport sand toward the beach and build up the berm once again.

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The Singing Beach Project is a Waring tradition and after 15 years of bringing innovation and energy to the project to keep it fresh, I am pleased that The Waring Industrial Park (WIP) has become a reality. The WIP will offer new opportunities for this right of passage within the eighth grade science program.

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Not only can we simulate winter and summer beach with our wave tank, we can also use our 3D software and printers to make a model of the beach that will complement our 2 dimensional profiles.

Blending innovation with tradition, thinking differently about how to do the same thing, and doing real work is something that I see happening in every room and in every nook and cranny of the Waring campus. It is exciting to be a teacher here.

 

 

 

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