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For 30 years, the Bureau of Economic Geology has maintained a research program for monitoring shorelines and investigating coastal processes in Texas. An important part of this program has been the frequent mapping of the shoreline and measurement of beach profiles. The High School Coastal Monitoring Program, begun by the Bureau in 1997, provides scientific data at key locations along the Texas coast. These data are integrated into the ongoing coastal research program at the Bureau and made available to other researchers and coastal managers.

Three high schools are currently in the Coastal Monitoring Program: Ball High School in Galveston, Port Aransas High School in Port Aransas, and Port Isabel High School in Port Isabel. Scientists from the Bureau provide tools and training needed for the research. Both students and teachers learn how to measure topography, map vegetation and shoreline, and observe and document weather and wave conditions. By participating in an actual research project, students get hands-on experience that they can use in the classroom.

In addition to providing scientists with much-needed scientific information and providing high school students with an inquiry-based learning experience, the Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program increases public awareness of coastal processes. It actively involves people living along the Texas coastline in the scientific study of their natural environment. Students, teachers, and parents alike gain a better understanding of dune and beach dynamics, beach morphology, shoreline change, and coastal processes and hazards along the Texas coast. This understanding can translate to an awareness of the impact that humans have on environmental change.

More information about the Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program, plus data from the students’ fieldwork, is posted on the Bureau's Web site at http://inet1.beg.utexas.edu/thscmp/. Information at this site includes an overview of field measurements, the people involved, the environment under study, field procedures, field forms, a map with links to data, the curriculum, quarterly reports, other useful links, the Access database, and a photo gallery. Bureau scientists involved in the Coastal Monitoring Program are Jim Gibeaut and Tiffany Hepner.