Coastal Erosion: Where's the Beach?

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Learners use beach profile data from a local beach or online data from Ocean City, Maryland to investigate coastal erosion and sediment transport. Learners graph the data and examine trends over time to assess changes to the shorelines. The activity includes instructions for collecting beach profiles, background information on coastal erosion and human impact, recent historical examples of erosion, and additional resources about the subject.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Beach profile data (see under Data activity)
  • Computer with spreadsheet software
  • Transit rods (if conducting beach profile)
  • Line (if conducting beach profile)
  • Line level and line (if conducting beach profile)
  • Sight marker (if conducting beach profile)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth's History
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Tides
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Wave Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
      • Public Policy
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Rose, Laura ; Virginia Sea Grant; Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Funding Sources:

  • NOAA Sea Grant
  • National Marine Educators Association