Protection money

18th July 2008 at 01:00
Ellen Clarkson explains how pound;100,000 for sea defences is cash well spent

Ellen Clarkson explains how pound;100,000 for sea defences is cash well spent

Challenge your key stage 3 pupils to manage a fast-eroding coastline by buying sea defences for vulnerable locations.

Pairs of pupils are given pound;100,000 - not real money, obviously - and must decide how they will spend it in a year, together with maps of a coastline showing six numbered locations. These may be towns, nature reserves, tourist attractions, rare animal habitats or historic castles.

Once they have selected a location that they wish to protect, pupils must give reasons for their choice. These reasons may be taken from brief fact files that you have provided on each location - for example, a rare species of butterfly relies on this nature reserve for survival. This encourages pupils to prioritise which locations are most in need of care.

They choose what method of coastal protection they will use, either groynes, beach replenishment or sea walls.

The defences cost different amounts of money and pupils decide whether the feature they are protecting requires a large stretch of defences (so they may use groynes, which are fairly cheap) or if the area needs stronger, more expensive defences, such as a seawall, which will only cover a small stretch of the coastline. Details of the cost of each type of defence should be given per centimetre of the map. Pupils may only select one location at a time. They must justify their choice of defence and cannot use the same one twice.

Once they have made their decision, pupils roll a dice. Whatever number the dice lands on is the area that is eroded by heavy storms that year. If they have protected the correct area they have been successful. If they have not protected the area that is damaged, they must pay pound;10,000 to carry out repairs, which reduces their spending the following year. This can be repeated until all locations have been assigned defences. The winners are those whose coastline has suffered the least damage.

The intention of this lesson is to develop independent thinking, along with literacy and numeracy skills. My pupils were required to complete a write-up of this activity as part of an assessment and created some detailed and well researched written work.

You know the lesson is going well when.

Pupils begin jumping up and down in their seat when they have chosen to protect the correct location, and you know they are developing numeracy skills when they start to discuss the probability of each location getting hit.

Ellen Clarkson is a geography teacher at George Salter Collegiate Academy, West Bromwich

- Make the decision between protecting locations difficult. This encourages pupils to come up with original reasons for their choice.

- Ask them to complete the final write-up as homework. This allows them to conduct independent research on sea defences and extends their learning.


Pupil Vision is a useful website. The coastal resource bank provides information and images of coastal defences. It also provides maps of the Norfolk coast that may be used as part of the activity. www.pupilvision.comyeartencoastalmaps.htm.

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