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Surfing by Carsten

I love to surf. And why not, I live in San Diego where there's 70 miles of coastline. But when it comes to catching a great wave, sometimes I just end up catching sun. My question: Where are the best waves?

What did we do?
I know many things help make a great wave, like storm systems, swirl directions and the wind. But I decided to narrow my investigation and look at two types of breaks. I picked a beach break and a reef break. I surfed both while my friends recorded how long I was on a wave and how many maneuvers I did. Then I rated my own speed on a scale of 1 to 5.

Test Reef break Beach break
Longest ride 6 seconds 15 seconds
Most maneuvers 4 9
Speed (1-5 scale) 3 4

What did we find out?
Me and my friends found out the beach break was much easier to surf. I caught more waves, stayed on the waves longer and could do lots more maneuvers. At the beach break, waves break on a shallow sandy bottom. On the reef break, waves break on rocks.

What can you do?
  • Try measuring how big the waves are on different breaks. Or investigate how the wind affects wave height. Use an anemometer to measure wind speed. Also, try investigating wind direction. Do you get bigger waves when the wind blows from different directions? Remember, when you do investigations in and around the water, make sure an adult is supervising.
  • What else can you investigate at the beach? For example, what does it take to build the tallest sandcastle? Do you have another idea for a beach investigation?
  • Use this earth science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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