Caudle, T.L. and Paine, J.G., 2017. Applications of coastal data collected in the Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program (THSCMP).
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. Scientists from the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at The University of Texas at Austin show middle and high school students and teachers how to measure topography, map vegetation lines and shorelines with GPS, and observe weather and wave conditions. The students are active participants in the research project, which has the dual benefit of enhancing their science education while providing valuable data on the dynamic coastline. Students collect critical scientific data that help scientists and managers address coastal issues and gain a better understanding of dune and beach dynamics on the Texas coast. Since the THSCMP began in 1997, data collected by 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 changes on Mustang Island, geotextile tubes on Galveston Island, and jetty construction on Matagorda Peninsula. Student data are also used in verifying shoreline positions for updates of Texas' long-term shoreline change rates. Through these real-world examples of scientific observations, students gain a better understanding of environmental issues affecting their communities.