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Dr. Legna Torres-Garcia and Meaghan Emory of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center visited the LCC Day School Science Spectacular to teach local students about the effects of coastal storms on barrier island systems.  

A woman stands beside a green table pointing to a strip of raised sand with tiny models of buildings on it
Dr. Legna Torres-Garcia at the LCC Day School Science Spectacular.

SPCMSC staff conducted an erosion model activity to showcase how hurricane-force winds can cause damage to coastal environments. The students were introduced to concepts such as how hurricane winds generate waves, the processes of coastal erosion and overwash, and how these processes can impact coastal communities—all very relevant information to communities in Pinellas County, Florida. This Erosion Simulation Video shows how the activity works, which can be easily re-created and taught in K-12 classrooms. This was the first in-person outreach activity SPCMSC has participated in since early 2020. 

Barrier Islands are long stretches of land, usually with sandy beaches, that run parallel to the shoreline. These barrier islands provide a first line of defense for coastal communities, especially during extreme storm events like hurricanes. Scientists in the USGS Coastal Change Hazards team conduct research to better understand coastal change in these barrier island systems, and provide real-time forecasts of total water level and coastal change so coastal communities can be better prepared for these hazards.  

a scientists talks to students at a table with a bin of water and sand
Dr. Legna Torres-Garcia conducts an erosion model activity at the LCC Day School in St. Petersburg, FL, to showcase how hurricane-force winds can cause damage to coastal environments.

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