A Hurricane's Storm Surge Affects our Estuaries

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In this activity, learners construct a coastal landmass from sand and add features such as tidal creeks and barrier islands. Learners then add varying amounts of water to observe the effects of storm surge on coastal land masses.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Long plastic container such as an under the bed storage container or stream table
  • Milk jug or pitcher
  • Sand
  • Access to a water faucet or a hose
  • A variety of materials such as Lego blocks, Monopoly houses or other items with which to build houses (such as shells, sticks, rocks, leaves, grass, straws, cardboard, etc.)
  • Sponges (to be cut up and placed to represent the marsh)
  • Tiny toy animals, people, cars, etc.
  • Plastic straws (to place the houses on stilts‐optional)
  • Block of wood
  • Erasable markers
  • Paper towels for clean-up


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Olsen, Margaret ; Greganti, Katie ; COSEE SE


  • All rights reserved, The Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, 2012

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0827983
  • National Science Foundation, 0828142
  • National Science Foundation, 0827953
  • NOAA National Sea Grant
  • Office of Naval Research
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration