EUHS AP Bio Students Research Beach Erosion
by Peter Gale, Community Outreach Team
To really learn science, you have to get out of the classroom.
East Union Science Department Chair Polly Ficken took some of her AP Biology students to the Jr. Research Program.
“We went to Carmel State Beach twice and met with a researcher who is studying Beach erosion patterns and collected data for her,” said Ficken. “She is using the data to help build an understanding of how and why beaches erode the way they do.”
This kind of research required the dual visits to the beach to see how things had changed.
“We went to this outlet a little south of Carmel where this fresh water river meets the ocean,” said senior Kelly Francesca Ball. “We wanted to see how the geographical land features change when fresh water breaks and overflows into the ocean.”
This was unlike a classroom lab in a limited and controlled environment.
“This is different from the class because it is all up to you and not based on a paper or a procedure,” said senior Gurleen Kaur. “It was more independent brainstorming. We had to figure out how to get the most information.”
To save money, the class built their own sieves. Each sieve had a different sized mesh screen to separate various sizes of sand samples.
“We had filters of differ sizes and you zip tie them to aluminum cans and then you shake it,” said Ball. “You put the sand in, and the smaller particles filter through, and then from the larger particles, we would measure the masses of sand left over.”
Ball explained that they looked at the proportion of different particle sizes depending on where they took the samples from. They also looked at how it changed on their second visit after the river water broke through the sandbar and entered the ocean.
In addition to using the sieves, the students ran tests using scientific equipment.
“We used a pipette and got water from the river to put it on the salinity tester,” said senior Steffy Mathew. “We would check the amount of salinity in that water.”
Senior Emily Afre added, “We would also check the oxygen content by dipping a little rod in to measure the PH of the water.”
The students felt it brought their classroom learning to life.
“We went for two days and it was like actually doing field research and collecting data to answer a hypothesis,” said Ball. “I am interested in becoming a scientist when I am older, and I felt like that was a really good simulation of what I would do in the field as my job.”
All the girls interviewed are excited to play a future role in a STEM related field. One is planning on working in pharmaceuticals, another intends to study pre-med optometry or ophthalmology. One will pursue chemical engineering and one wants to be a nurse.
“This gave me a good idea of what being a science teacher might be like,” senior Alyssa Nascimento continues, “and what the science field might be like if that is something I might want to do.”