Revisiting King Tide Day

Hundreds of high school and college students spent two days on Miami Beach this month, testing flood waters as part of the project that’s designed to “hack” journalism curriculum.

The events were part of the Florida International University School of Journalism and Mass Communication‘s way to develop community journalism about important environmental issues such as sea level rise that also pushes the boundaries of how journalism is taught.

Here’s the low-down:

Students began the training for testing flood waters with a Sept. 29 event. More than 220 people attended at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. The rally included Lily Bui, a graduate student at MIT, who shared with students major ideas behind sensor journalism. The day’s events ended with a workshop on communicating issues of sea level rise and climate change, hosted by The CLEO Institute.

Dozens of SJMC and MAST @ FIU high school students spent Oct. 1 and 2 working with their coqui sensors. Built from scratch with the help of Don Blair and Public Lab, students were able to understand the engineering behind the sensors that test for, among other things, water salinity.

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Armed with their sensors, students took to Alton Road in Miami Beach on Oct. 8, the first of two days of King Tides — the days when the seas have above-average high tides across the world.



Again on Oct. 9, students took positions through Miami Beach, collecting water from storm drains and any standing water to measure its salinity.



Water samples were tested at the scene for salinity. Other samples were gathered at 10 locations and returned to the MAST @ FIU campus at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. There, students part of the 190-student school will test the water over the next several weeks to identify potential chemicals and variants in the water. 













Students from MAST @ FIU, high school students selected by The CLEO Institute, and college students from FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication helped describe the process and importance of understanding sea level rise with local press that attended a press conference hosted by FIU’s SJMC.











More than 80 people and members of the press attended.













Media coverage included the Weather Channel and the TODAY show.

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Many came to hear from the students about their interest in sea level rise — including Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.











Led by The CLEO Institute, local science experts wrapped the event with a working lunch for students at MiamI Beach Urban Studios on Lincoln Road.














Students will be working on journalism over the next several weeks to help relay the data and other meanings gathered from this series of events.

IMG_1455 plans more events for the Spring semester, including a hackathon, to relay to the public the importance of gathering their own data and information about local environments. More info will also be coming about the student-designed and built flooding app for South Florida residents.