By Chuck Walker
Mobile, Alaa. – As part of the acquisition of new citizen scientists, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), along with the Mobile District, participated in a SandSnap Show at the Thomas B. Norton Library in Gulf Shores, Alabama, to encourage children to participate as part of the SandSnap project when They go to the beach.
SandSnap is a national initiative of the ERDC, the US Geological Service, Marda Science, and James Madison University to collect beach information and build a national beach grain size database.
The bags that were distributed to the children included various fun activities they can do at the beach, as well as how SandSnap is working to help with the national database.
“We do a lot of STEM outreach in libraries in coastal areas, which is why we came to Gulf Shores,” said Brian McFall, research engineer at ERDC. “Our bags include a lot of fun activities, such as building sandcastles, as well as riding the SandSnap. We are so happy to have over 100 kids here. We hope to collect many more samples and help educate the next generation.”
Part of the SandSnap project involves collecting sand samples from various geographic locations across the United States. ERDC previously collected SandSnaps from Sag Harbor, New York and also collected SandSnap samples from various beaches in California.
Thus, with both the East Coast and the West Coast already represented, Gulf Shores presented an opportunity to include Gulf Coast beaches in the samples.
“This project requires a strong communication component,” McFall said. “We want to engage children and help educate and inspire the next generation. This is the first time we are promoting SandSnap at the library and we hope to gain many more citizen scientists to help us with our project.
With Gulf Shores primarily located in the Mobile District’s backyard, the district has lent a hand to ERDC to help promote and encourage participation in the SandSnap project.
Major Gary Cutler, deputy commander of the Mobile District, said events like Gulf Shores are important to the Mobile District and the Corps of Engineers.
“The mission of the US Army Corps of Engineers is to ensure our waterways and coasts are looked after,” Cutler said. “Events like these, where we encourage citizen scientists to gather information for a very important project, are essential to help preserve our coast and preserve our beaches for future generations.”
McFaul said he thought the SandSnap event, which also included a performance by juggler and superbike rider Wink Darenberg, was a huge success.
“We were able to commission more than 100 new citizen scientists through this event,” McFall said. “We have publicized this project very well and SandSnap should help collect many samples. I think everyone is excited to participate and I think they are ready to become citizen scientists.
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