As students walked up to the pipes spewing sand and water and bulldozers pushing sand up the dunes, there are audible “oohhhs and aahhhss” from the crowd with the rustling of bags and pockets in search of a cell phone to snap a quick photo.
The Charleston District hosted three different schools, James Island Christian School (JICS), The Porter Gaud School (PG) and Charleston Charter School of Math and Science (CCSMS) at Folly Beach to learn more about the Corps and the Folly Beach Shore Protection Project.
While CCSMS visited the project in February, PG came in March and finally JICS in May, all the groups left with a better understanding of all the components that go into a shore protection project and how it reduces the risk of damage to the beach and structures along the beach from erosion.
Students were divided into two groups and rotated through three stations; the beach, turtles and Geographic Information Systems.
On the beach the students learned about constructing the project, how much sand is needed, finding the borrow area and keeping the project on schedule and within budget.
“During our experience, we learned that dredges help Folly Beach’s erosion problem and they go out [in the ocean] three miles and it takes about a month to get a mile down the beach,” said Juliette Lovell, a 7th grade student at Porter Gaud.
Students learned how GIS is used for shore protection projects, such as surveying the borrow areas to ensure that there is enough sand for the project. They also learned about surveying the beach to determine how much sand will be needed for renourishment and maintaining a database of the different off-shore sediment samples that have been analyzed.
Protecting the environment, specifically loggerhead turtles during their nesting and hatching season, is a priority for the District. Students were able to talk with biologists about the effects that renourishment can have on turtles, what the Corps is doing to minimize the impact of the project and what students can do to help. There was even a loggerhead turtle shell that the students could examine.
The students were enthusiastic about the project and several commented on bringing their families back to see the project.
Since the Corps only renourishes Folly Beach approximately every eight to ten years, it was a unique opportunity to share this project with bright, young students who are well on their way to becoming engineers, project managers and scientists.