Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program: 2007-2009

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The Texas Coastal Monitoring Program engages people who live along the Texas coast in the study of their natural environment. High school students, teachers, and scientists work together to gain a better understanding of dune and beach dynamics there. Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin (UT) provide the tools and training needed for scientific investigation. Students and teachers learn how to measure the topography, map the vegetation line and shoreline, and observe weather and wave conditions. By participating in an actual research project, the students obtain an enhanced science education. Public awareness of coastal processes and the Texas Coastal Management Program is heightened through this program. The students' efforts also provide coastal communities with valuable data on their changing shoreline.

This report describes the program and our experiences during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 academic years. During this time, Ball High School on Galveston Island completed its eleventh year in the program, and Port Aransas and Port Isabel High Schools completed their ninth and tenth years, respectively (Fig. 1). All three high schools are continuing the program during the 2009-2010 academic year. Through collaboration with the Lower Colorado River Authority, the program expanded to three schools in the Bay City, Texas, region. Tidehaven Middle School and Van Vleck High School completed their fifth year in the program, and Palacios High School completed its third year. Cunningham Middle School in the Corpus Christi Independent School District participated in its first field trip in late spring of the 2008-2009 academic year. All of the schools anticipate continuing with the program during the 2009-2010 academic year. Discussions of data collected by the students and recommendations for future high school projects are also included in this report. A manual with detailed field procedures, field forms, classroom exercises, and teaching materials was prepared during the first year of the project at Ball High School in 1997-1998. The manual was updated with the addition of the Bay City region schools in 2005.


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