Pre-College Student Involvement in Texas Coastal Research
Tiffany L. Caudle and Jeffrey G. Paine
Bureau of Economic Geology, John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, University Station, Box X, Austin, Texas 78713
The Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program (THSCMP) engages students and teachers who live along the Gulf of Mexico in the study of their natural environment. The program was designed to help coastal residents develop a better understanding of the dune and beach dynamics on the Texas coast. Scientists from the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) work with middle and high school students and teachers, showing them how to measure topography, map vegetation lines and shorelines with GPS, and observe weather and wave conditions. As participants in a research project, the students enhance their science education and provide coastal communities with valuable data on their changing shoreline. We emphasize to the students that they are collecting critical scientific data that will help scientists address coastal issues affecting their community.
Since the program began in 1997, data collected by the students have been applied by scientists to investigate beach, dune, and vegetation-line recovery following several tropical cyclones including Hurricane Ike in 2008. Student-collected data are used to monitor the effects of nourishment projects on South Padre Island, foredune modification on Mustang Island, geotextile tubes on Galveston Island, and vehicular traffic and jetty construction on Matagorda Peninsula. Through these real-world examples of scientific observations, students gain a better understanding of environmental issues affecting their communities. All data collected by THSCMP are integrated into past and ongoing coastal research programs at BEG. Most recently, data collected by THSCMP students were invaluable in verifying shoreline position for an update of Texas’s longterm shoreline change rates, which is widely used by public officials, corporations, and private citizens.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012