Last week Country Day’s 7th graders had an amazing opportunity to move their classroom to two local destinations to better understand the process of Beach Re-nourishment efforts that are funded by federal, state, and local governing bodies.
Our day began by enjoying lunch at the Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve with a roster of local celebrity A-Lister’s including; Mayor RB Johnson, City Manager Chuck Coward, City Clerk Deanne O’Reilly, Commissioner Phil Hannah, as well as our personal police escort for the day, Officer Hill! As lunch wrapped up, Mr. Coward and Mr. Johnson gave the group a briefing in which we learned our day would cover three areas of beach re-nourishment. We began with a tour of a beach prior to restoration efforts, making our way to areas of our local beach environment that has undergone restoration. We ended the tour at the location of Indian Rocks Beach that is currently “under construction”. The Mayor provided each student with a gift basket on behalf of the city!
These tours of our local beach community undergoing, or that have undergone, re-nourishment proved to be highly informative and intriguing. We learned about the people and machinery it takes to make this happen, including: ships, barges, tug boats, bull dozers, miles of pipe, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, marine scientists, engineers, and government officials . We were also introduced to the complexities behind the science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) that goes into every decision made from how and where does the city find new sand, how and where the sand can be place/spread in order to build local sand dunes, of which, we learned to be the true underlying reason we go through these particular restoration efforts. We learned that there is a natural process occurring continuously throughout the year in which sand moves between underwater sand bars and out of water sand dunes. When this process stops or is interrupted by the elimination of either side of the cycle (sand bar side or the sand dune side) it can/will have major impact on local beaches which in turn impacts everything from local ecology, tourism, to the local work force that employs the citizens our surrounding communities.
The day commenced with a few amazing photo opportunities and a student finding a fossilized shark tooth at the site where sand is currently being sent in from the offshore barges “borrow” site. The tooth was dated using state resources that deemed the tooth to be a minimum of 10,000 years old – great way to end a great day.