Beach Explorations:
A Curriculum for Grades 5-10

  1. Place the surveyor's stick at zero (0) on the transect line next to the water's edge. The elevation at Distance 0 is 0. This should be marked on the "Gradient Data Sheet." Note the exact time. Tide levels can be calculated or estimated using tide table data. This allows for comparison between sets of transect data done at different times of the year, or at different beaches.
  2. Move the assistant's stick to each station on the transect line. The surveyor places the sprit level on top of the stick. The surveyor sights along the spirit level making sure the bubble is between the lines at the assistant's stick. The assistant moves one hand up and down his/her stick until the surveyor indicates it is directly in the line of view. The diagram below indicates how it will appear.
  3. Read the elevation to the nearest tenth of a meter. This is the amount of the stick which is above the assistant's hand whit it is directly in the surveyor's line of sight. The recorder reads the elevation and writes it down on the Gradient Data Sheet at the appropriate distance of that station.
  4. Now the team moves to the next station along the transect line. If the beach is not too steep, the surveyor stays at 0, while the team moves up to the next station. If the beach is steep, the surveyor can move to the 1st station, but ensure to add the height of station one to the newly measured height.
  5. Continue taking elevations until the team reaches the higher end of the transect line and the Gradient Data Sheet (see next page) is filled in.
Preview Pages


overview of each chapter
page 13, 14

sample lesson, tidal pools
page 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189

sample lesson, adaptations of surf-dwelling rocky shore animals,
page 222, 223, 224, 225

sample lesson, vertical zonation,
page 202, 203