Stellar Science at Starfish Point: Geography Fieldwork in MYP

Earlier this month, the Middle Years students tried their hand at Geography Fieldwork. Fieldwork is an important component of the subject, as it allows budding geographers to not only collect data and run tests, but to also engage with the world around them.

As we had just completed a unit about coastlines, we traveled to Starfish Point to observe the coast and what is being done to protect the coastline. We made sure to pack a directional compass, meter sticks, a mathematical compass, and cameras.

The first task for the budding geographers was to determine if longshore drift was occurring at Starfish Point. Longshore drift is a process that can change shorelines and cause erosion. Waves and prevailing winds can draw sand away from beaches – something we don’t want to see at Starfish Point! As an experiment, we threw a bunch of corks into the water. The corks would act as giant granules of sand for us to observe. What we saw was that longshore drift does occur at Starfish Point; the corks were carried by the direction of the waves quickly along the shore line. This showed us that the waves pull sand back out with them, and repeat this process as the waves move down the coast. 

The second task the Grade 7s had to do was determine if the groynes (rigid structures built from an ocean shore that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment) in place on the beach were stopping the longshore drift from eroding the beach away. Before the Fieldwork, Kai and Seáne predicted that if the groynes were doing their job, then there should be a build-up of sand along one side of the groynes. By taking measurements on both sides of the groynes, and the students’ prediction was correct! The results showed that, yes, there was a bigger build-up of sand on the north side of groynes, which means they were stopping the sand from being dragged back into the ocean.
The day was a success, and a great experience for the Middle Years students to see coastal processes at work, as well as test out some practical skills. Well done, Grade 7s!


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