Monitoring Our Changing World


Course Objectives

Students will learn:

•    To collect and analyze profile data at beaches and rivers
•    To deploy, retrieve, and analyze data from temperature data loggers
•    To access, download, and analyze environmental data from online resources
•    Tips and tricks for using quantitative data in the classroom

As a group, we will discuss:
•    Developing research questions
•    Fostering a sense of curiosity about place with students
•    Challenges and work-arounds to engaging students in place-based research


Students will produce:
A portfolio of local landforms and processes comparing the data the collected in the field to long-term
data available online, including:
•    Plots of local stream profiles and comparative plots of measured discharge and reported discharge
from a stream gauge
•    Plots of local beach profiles and comparison to regional tide-gauge records and sedimentation patterns as seen using Google Earth
•    Comparative profiles and brief explanation of tidal-cycle changes investigated using submersible temperature data loggers

An annotated record of digital resources appropriate for use with their classroom, including sites with available real-time data close to their school

A project plan outlining implementation of a blended field/digital research project for their students, including background research on the field site and a brief discussion of anticipated challenges


Sun: Meet, walk around campus to tour habitats
Mon: Stream profiling, gauges, and discharge
Tues: Tidal cycle monitoring and salt marshes
Wed: Meteorologic data and response of the environment to events; using Google Earth to track environmental change
Thurs: Beach profiling and sea-level rise
Fri: Repeat profile local stream; discussion of short- versus long-term change; presentation of proposed student projects and resource list

Background References:

•    Emery, K.O., 1961, A simple method of measuring beach profiles: Limnology and Oceanography, v. 6, p. 90-93.

•    Murdoch, T., Cheo, M., and Whittemore, T., 1991, The Streamkeeper's Field Guide. Adopt a Stream Foundation, 300 p.

The plan for the course is to introduce teachers to a wide variety of free online sources for environmental data, including the links below.

Stream discharge (real-time) and historic peak flow data from the USGS:,00060

Historic tide gage data for long-term trends, Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL):

Long-term regional air temp and precip records (National Weather Service):

Some local meteorologic data from here (Hulls Cove, daily data back to 2007):

We will also be looking at several links to data off the website, especially the atmospheric carbon dioxide data: and

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