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Coastal Heritage Curriculum Connection

Explore Curriculum Connection guides, which are written to accompany each issue of Coastal Heritage, a quarterly publication of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Coastal Heritage, Fall 2019 issue: Island Science: Special Ecosystems Lure Researchers

Focus Questions

  • What are the four geographic attributes of a barrier island?
  • How many developed barrier islands are there in South Carolina? Undeveloped? Name at least one of each type.
  • What benefits do barrier islands provide to research scientists? Why do so many scientists choose to do research on barrier islands?
  • Describe three current research studies being performed on barrier islands.
  • What difficulties do barrier islands pose to commercial and residential development?
  • What are the three ways that barrier islands form?

Use the Curriculum Connection to Address These South Carolina Academic Standards

Kindergarten Science

K.L.2A.6 Obtain and communicate information about the needs of organisms to explain why they live in particular areas.

1st Grade Science

1.E.4A.3 Conduct structured investigations to answer questions about how the movement of water can change the shape of the land.

2nd Grade Science

2.L.5B.1 Obtain and communicate information to describe and compare how animals interact with other animals and plants in the environment.

3rd Grade Science

3.E.4B.2 Plan and conduct scientific investigations to determine how natural processes (including weathering, erosion, and gravity) shape Earth’s surface.

5th Grade Science

5.E.3B.2 Develop and use models to explain the effect of the movement of ocean water (including waves, currents, and tides) on the ocean shore zone (including beaches, barrier islands, estuaries, and inlets).

7th Grade Science (Life Science)

7.EC.5B.4 Define problems caused by the introduction of a new species in an environment and design devices or solutions to minimize the impact(s) to the balance of an ecosystem.

8th Grade Science (Earth Science)

8.E.5A.1 Develop and use models to explain how the processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition change surface features in the environment.

8.E.6A.4 Construct and analyze scientific arguments to support claims that different types of fossils provide evidence of (1) the diversity of life that has been present on Earth, (2) relationships between past and existing life forms, and (3) environmental changes that have occurred during Earth’s history.

High School Biology

H.B.6A.1 Analyze and interpret data that depict changes in the abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem over time or space (such as percent change, average change, correlation, and proportionality) and propose hypotheses about possible relationships between the changes in the abiotic components and the biotic components of the environment.

H.B.6D.1 Design solutions to reduce the impact of human activity on the biodiversity of an ecosystem.

High School Earth Science

H.E.3A.6 Develop and use models to explain how various rock formations on the surface of Earth result from geologic processes (including weathering, erosion, deposition, and glaciation).

H.E.3B.2 Construct scientific arguments to support claims that responsible management of natural resources is necessary for the sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them.

Lesson Links and Educational Resources

Barrier Island Story Map

Created by S.C. Sea Grant Consortium to accompany this issue of Coastal Heritage, you can take a virtual road trip of all thirty-four of South Carolina’s barrier islands with this story map . Move from island to island and learn a little bit about the varied history, ecology, and culture of South Carolina’s barrier islands. (6-12)

Of Sand and Sea: Teachings from the Southeastern Shoreline Book

For an excellent reference material on barrier islands in the Southeast, check out the book Of Sand and Sea: Teachings from the Southeastern Shoreline. In addition to information on barrier islands, this book contains a comprehensive explanation of ocean zones, plate tectonics, the hydrologic cycle, and the physical and chemical properties of the ocean. (K-12)

Project Oceanica Resources

As part of a collaborative effort among  the United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, and the College of Charleston, Project Oceanica developed a curriculum of beach activities designed for middle school students. These lesson plans include the creation of a beach profile for a variable shoreline, flora and fauna analyses, and geological investigation of beach sediment. While the curriculum was written with middle school standards in mind, these activities can easily be adapted for higher grade levels. (6-12)

NOAA Coastal Decision-Making Lesson Plan

Incorporating social sciences in the STEM classroom, this NOAA Ocean Service Education lesson plan tasks students with problem solving through role-playing a variety of barrier island stakeholders. Students will use these different perspectives to examine the many human dimensions of coastal decision-making. (9-12)

NOAA Enrichment in Marine Sciences and Oceanography Curriculum

This 23-lesson curriculum gives extensive background on all aspects of marine sciences at a high-school level and introduces students to the National Ocean Science Bowl competition. Lesson 16: Coastal Dynamics gives barrier island-specific information, detailing the ways that coasts develop over time and comparing and contrasting barrier islands with a number of other coastlines. (9-12)

The Fragile Fringe: A Guide for Teaching about Coastal Wetlands

This USGS-created set of lessons walks you and your class through a variety of wetland-related activities, focusing on the ecology and geology of this ecosystem. Teach your students about the function of barrier islands as a crucial, protective part of the wetlands with an engaging activity that will get them up and moving around the classroom. (K-8)

Barrier Island Migration Lesson Plan

Created by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science , this 5E lesson plan leads students in the creation of a model to demonstrate the geological changes barrier islands experience over time. Extend your students’ learning with an additional case-based lesson assessing barrier island ecotourism. (9-12)

Field Trip Opportunities

Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center

Located in Awendaw, S.C., the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center offers you and your students the opportunity to learn more about a variety of Lowcountry habitats, including the barrier islands of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Choose from more than 20 educational programs ranging from shorebirds and sea turtles to field studies of salt marsh ecology offered at no cost to you and your students. (K-12)

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program

Operating out of four coastal locations, SCDNR’s Marine Education Program provides a variety of place-based marine field trips. Students can gain hands-on experience in sample collection, data recording, and other critical science investigation skills. To find out more information and to book your field trip, visit the SCDNR Marine Education website . (K-12)

Hunting Island State Park

Hunting Island State Park offers a variety of educational programs on-site at the 5,000-acre secluded barrier island. To engage your students with the natural resources of the state park, you can choose from activities on sea turtle nesting, marine ecology, or the life and death of a barrier island. In addition to interpreter-led educational programs, you can also bring your students to the Nature Center to view live reptiles or climb the historic lighthouse to get out a little bit of energy before heading back to the bus. (3-7)

Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission

CCPRC education staff offer barrier island ecology programs for school groups at Folly Beach County Park, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, and Isle of Palms County Park. Students will build their own barrier island out of sand, examine swash-zone organisms, and seine the surf to see the animals that call barrier islands home. To find out more or to book a program, visit the CCPRC website . (3-8)

Naturalist-Guided Ecotourism

A number of private ecotourism companies  offer educational field trip excursions to  several undeveloped barrier islands.  You can walk the inland trails of pristine Bulls Island with Coastal Expeditions , learn about the geology of Capers Island with Barrier Island Eco-Tours , or pick through the diverse array of shells on North Island in Yawkey Wildlife Center with Rover Boat Tours . (K-12)

Camp St. Christopher

Located on Seabrook Island, St. Christopher’s Barrier Island Environmental Education Program provides overnight educational field trips to school groups with a customizable selection of classes ranging from entomology to night walks through the maritime forest. Choose from 3- or 5-day programs and immerse your students in the science of barrier islands. (K-12)