Science Diary: Beach Sand - Sand: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Jun 10, 2008
Scientist: Adina Paytan

Science Diary: Beach Sand - Sand

Science Diary: Beach Sand - Sand
A school science fair project has caught the attention of an oceanographer, who is helping to guide some significant research.

music; ambience: beach

"So while we're checking for bacteria in the sand, it's just important to mention that there's people in the water, kids playing in the sand, if there are any bacteria, everybody is exposed to it."

That's Dr. Adina Paytan, an oceanographer at the University of California in Santa Cruz. She was recruited by two middle school students, Ella and Rose, to assist with their science fair project! Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

Rose/Ella: "This year we're testing to see whether the sand is going to filter out bacteria from the water. We take core samples from three different beaches and we test the ocean water, and we pour it through the sand core filter and collect the water at the bottom that seeps through, and then we test the water at the end to see if it more or less bacteria in the water."

Rose and Ella are testing their samples for E. coli and total coliform bacteria, microorganisms whose presence is associated with animal waste. When it contaminates our food and water, coliform bacteria can cause poisoning.

Adina: "In your results so far, did you see that some of the bacteria actually came out?"

Rose/Ella: "We haven't quite looked at the data yet. We're going to get all the samples, and then "

Adina: "And then you're going to look at the results."

Rose/Ella: "Yeah."

Adina: "I'm kind of curious to know, because we did some tests like that in my lab, and we found that the sand didn't really filter anything. In fact, there were more bacteria in the water at the end, so the water actually took out bacteria from the sand and bacteria increased."

We'll hear more about this project in future programs.

Please visit our website, Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.