Battle of the beach: hundreds of children ‘fight’ the water

Published: 5 June 2015

On Tuesday, 16 June on the Langevelderslag beach near Noordwijk in the Netherlands, more than 300 primary school children from classes 5, 6 and 7 will compete for the Battle of the Beach trophy. Who can make the strongest sandcastle that can stand up to the incoming tide for longest? Goaitske de Vries (a dike expert with Deltares and the water wonders ambassador of the Netherlands Water Partnership) and Paul Schaminée (a soil expert) will be among the people helping the children.

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Putting the spotlight on water to combine sports and education

The Battle of the Beach gives children the experience of how important the fight against water is. The Dutch international water envoy Henk Ovink will sound the starting signal. Children are often not aware that a large part of the Netherlands is below sea level and that we have dikes to protect us from the water. By combining sports and education to explain how flood protection works, water authorities, the national government, business and research institutes, including Deltares, want to raise awareness among children about life below sea level.

Guest lessons

With the slogan ‘Tell us all about water’, guest lessons at school were organised for all the children before the Battle. Goaitske de Vries was at two schools in Abcoude this week. She talked about flood protection in the Netherlands and the types of soil used to build our dikes. On Tuesday, 16 June, the children will put what they have learned into practice and build their own sandcastles that are expected to stand up to the waves.

Taking water for granted?

The Dutch water sector is constantly at work protecting our country from the water. That includes strengthening and maintaining water defences such as dunes, dikes, dams and other hydraulic structures such as the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk Barrier Dam. Are the defences still adequate, what can be improved or where can innovations be made and how can we maintain flood defences in the future? The climate is changing. Sometimes we have much too much water; sometimes much too little. Weather conditions are changing. Work on water is never done. Many people take flood protection for granted. The Battle of the Beach makes it clear that water is a powerful force and that more awareness is very much needed in the Netherlands. With this competition and a range of practical lessons, children are getting involved in the main challenges facing the field of water.