What did the Atlantic say to the Pacific? Nothing, it just waved.

by salamandersal

At the beginning of the Field Trip Explainer year we spend 2 weeks training newbies and refreshing our memory, but this year we are a smaller group of only returning explorers that will be leading the new crew in our new museum. To get ready for this Anne and Sylvia have arranged for us to spend this training time pondering each of the new galleries. We have been chatting with curators, looking at models of the new spaces, checking out new exhibits, and much more.Image

The most memorable activity for me was during the Outdoor Gallery, when we were given the challenge to observe some sort of change in nature in 30 minutes. Lea, Whit and I were drawn to measuring the tides. We had all seen change in the tides over time but can you measure that change in only a half hour with simple tools?

We quickly decided to tracking the “biggest wave” every 3 minutes, which for us meant the point where the water came closest to a stick/ruler we had placed on the beach.

Our results looked something like this…


A mess of strings that each represent how close to (or how far past) the water came to the ruler in each chunk of 3 minutes.  In that 30 minutes the water level must were changing, but we didn’t see any pattern in the waves. Why?


Well… we know there are many factors that determine the strength of  waves (wind, location, boat traffic) and tides are a slow process. So it seems that tracking just the waves is not enough to measure the tides in a half hour. So next time we will have to spend all day watching the waves.

Interesting Related Links:

How scientists measure tides?

Time Lapse of Tides in Bay of Fundy

Time Lapse of Beaches near Exploratorium