Barrier Islands Activity

Materials: cardboard box (bottom of shirt box); sand; food coloring; straws; shells, coins, or similar; long, narrow piece of cardboard or similar

Before class, prepare some colored sand. Put some food coloring and a little water in a small amount of sand. Be sure to have the sand dry before class. You may wish to make 2 or more different colors

For the initial demonstration, make a sand dune with one color. Right behind it make another sand dune. Blow on the sand through a straw. Have students observe what happens to the sand.

Students can try placing objects in the sand, multiple dunes, or a "body of water" (empty space). Coins or dice can symbolize houses, strips of cardboard can be fences or jetties, perhaps grass clipping placed on top of the sand can be plants.

Have students note the distribution of colored sand and uncolored sand. Also, they might observe the sand particle sizes. How can they relate particle size distribution to what they know about physics (less force needed to move a smaller mass) and what that might mean for beaches or the movement of sediment in rivers? What effects might real plants with roots changing on the right time scale have?

A hair dryer could also be used. Caution students to try to blow consistently. This activity will result in fine sand blowing out of the box, so bring a dustpan and broom or try to do the activity outside.

Basic procedure
Key Knowledge
Science Background
Script Idea
Barrier Islands
Alternate Ideas
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