K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Ocean beaches
In Coastal processes and conflicts: North Carolina's Outer Banks, page 1.12
This lesson is part of chapter one of the unit "Coastal processes and conflicts: North Carolina's Outer Banks." Students learn about various materials found on the beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks. They read about the processes that bring these materials to the beaches.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–12 Science)
By Stanley R. Riggs, Dorothea Ames, and Karen Dawkins.
Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the nature and structure of barrier islands with small sand volume, on which built structures are highly susceptible to damage from hurricanes.
Format: slideshow (multiple pages)
Waves and erosion
In Evidence of rising sea level: Coastal erosion and plant community changes, page 5
Figure 4 shows that rising sea level brings the eroding power of waves to the sound side of barrier islands as well as to the ocean side. Here we see the steep and collapsing face of an old beach ridge along the Roosevelt Nature Trail on the sound side of...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Evidence of rising sea level: Coastal erosion and plant community changes
A Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” that examines the causes and effects of changes in sea level, both short-term (as a result of storms) and long-term (as a result of climate change).
Format: slideshow (multiple pages)
Masonboro Island
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 3
The two islands visited on this trip, Masonboro and Topsail, have very low sand volumes. Masonboro Island is a part of the National Research Reserve system and is completely undeveloped. Topsail Island has been developed for residential use and has the roads,...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Mid-tide beach
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 5
Figure 3 shows the mid-tide beach with evidence of recent accretion of sand to the upper beach. Look closely at the beach profile and you will see that the surface is slightly higher and more covered with shells both above and below the relatively shell-free...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
An eroded dune
In Evidence of rising sea level: Coastal erosion and plant community changes, page 4
Figure 3 shows an eroded dune in front of a beachfront condominium project. As in the case of the house in Figure 2, this beach and dune eroded rapidly during Hurricanes Bonnie and Fran, but rising sea level played a role by bringing the sea up to a level...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Beach erosion
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 16
Figure 14 shows how beach erosion has undermined the deck and foundations of the houses in the foreground and apparently has threatened to do the same in the multifamily dwelling behind them. Note the remnants of an earlier dune on the right, and the roadway...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
The shoreline, shore zone, and beach
In Coastal processes and conflicts: North Carolina's Outer Banks, page 1.11
This lesson is part of chapter one of the unit "Coastal processes and conflicts: North Carolina's Outer Banks." Students learn about shore zones and shorelines. Additionally, they learn what factors influence the development of a beach and they ways in which beaches can differ.
Format: lesson plan (grade 8–12 Science)
By Stanley R. Riggs, Dorothea Ames, and Karen Dawkins.
The harbor of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The harbor of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A half-moon shaped harbor is visible past a red-tiled roof. Several other low buildings dot the coast. Puerto Vallarta is a port town on Mexico’s west coast. It is a popular port of call for cruise ships and has developed a vibrant tourism industry. The...
Format: image/photograph
Selling baskets on the beach at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Selling baskets on the beach at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A peddler walks on the beach laden with straw baskets. He is walking past two sunbathers lying on the sand. A wave rolls in from the ocean. Puerto Vallarta is a port town on Mexico’s west coast. It is a popular port of call for cruise ships and has developed...
Format: image/photograph
Salt marsh grass
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 7
Figure 5 shows an isolated patch of salt marsh grass that was recently covered with overwashed beach sand. Note that the plants seem to be flourishing. This is characteristic of plants that live successfully in areas where sand is regularly added and removed...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Parasailor landing on the beach at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Parasailor landing on the beach at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A woman parasailor floats in for a landing on the beach. The parachute is bright yellow with the word “Presidente.” A few beachgoers watch the woman approach the beach. Puerto Vallarta is a port town on Mexico’s west coast. It is a popular port...
Format: image/photograph
Another overwash fan
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 13
Figure 11 shows the last overwash fan on this trip, I promise. This one destroyed the dune over which this walkway was built and moved the sand landward to cover the walkway deck in the background. If you look closely you will see a change in color on the...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Houses built too close to shore
In Hurricanes on sandy shorelines: Lessons for development, page 14
Figure 11 shows a row of houses near those in Figure 10. These were not set back far from the average high tide line. All of these houses are now on the upper edge of the beach, and sea water washes around their foundations at high tide. There is a real question...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Beachfront Mansion
Beachfront Mansion
Format: image/photograph
Hurricane Floyd overwash
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 12
Figure 10 shows the result of an overwash event from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The pile of vegetation and road tar in the right foreground is evidence of the destruction of a previously existing dune and parking area. In the middle distance we can see the beach...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Living Near the Beachfront
Living Near the Beachfront
Format: image/photograph
North Topsail Beach
In Small sand volume barrier islands: Environmental processes and development risks, page 9
Figure 7 begins our tour of North Topsail Beach, a developed, low sand volume area of Topsail Island. The photograph shows the same flat topography that we saw on Masonboro, but this time there is a condominium complex right on the berm. The flat dunefield...
By Dirk Frankenberg.
Dune erosion on Oak Island (1)
In Hurricanes on sandy shorelines: Lessons for development, page 11
Shoreface construction on southeastern barrier islands rarely fares well when hurricanes make landfall over them. Figure 8 shows how this generalization played out on Oak Island during Hurricane Floyd. The houses were behind a small primary dune before the...
By Dirk Frankenberg.