If you look at a map of the eastern
shoreline of the United States, you can see
that the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are lined
by a series of thin, elongated islands.
These islands are known as
barrier islands because they provide
barriers to winds and ocean waves. These
islands protect the mainland by absorbing
the energy produced in hurricanes and normal
winter storms. But barrier islands are not
just important geological features. They
also are unique ecosystems. These
ecosystems provide feeding, mating, and
nesting areas for shorebirds, commercial
fish species, and shellfish such as clams,
oysters, and crabs. These beaches, dunes,
and wetlands also provide important
recreational activities for people. The
different uses of barrier islands result in
disagreements about how they are to be
managed. Should barrier islands be protected
and left undeveloped? Should people be
allowed to build homes and hotels on barrier
Your job in this WebQuest is to develop an
educated opinion as to whether or not people
should build permanent structures on barrier
islands. Once you have done your
research, you will prepare a "letter to the
editor" of a newspaper in which you outline
what you have learned about barrier islands
and state your opinion on whether permanent
structures should be built there. Your
letter should include information about the
geology and ecology of barrier islands as
well as the changes they are subject to.
Your goal is to convince readers of the
newspaper that your conclusion is correct
through educated arguements.
Look at the web sites given here to find the
information that will enable you to form
your opinion about permanent structures
built on barrier islands.
are barrier islands and how do they form?
The Nature of Barrier Islands. Visit
this web site to learn how the barrier
islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks
and Barrier Beaches.
At this site you can find out more about
how the barrier islands of Georgia
the famous site, a quick and easy
overview of how barrier islands are
do barrier islands change over time?
Barrier Islands: A Vanishing Resource.
At this site you can learn about the
changes in the barrier islands of
Louisiana's Gulf Coast.
Georgia's Barrier Islands.
name implies, this site gives you
historical info on the barrier islands
of Georgia and how they formed
3.) How do
various states handle development of barrier
kinds of development occur on barrier
happens to permanent structures built on
Approximately 2 class periods
Now that you have completed your research on
the Internet, decide what you think should
be done with barrier islands. Should these
islands be developed? What types of
development should be allowed? Should any
kind of development be prohibited? Write a
"letter to the editor" in which you develop
your answers to these questions. Support
your opinion with information from your
Internet research. All questions above
should be addressed in your letter to the
In the process of completing this WebQuest,
you've become informed about the importance
of barrier islands and how development of
those islands impacts both economic and
environmental factors. You have developed
critical thinking skills as you have
explored the many different factors involved
in this issue. You have read information to
answer key questions and formed an educated
opinion. Finally, you have communicated with
others the results of your investigation.
Have you changed anybody's mind about the
importance of barrier islands?