The Global Shortage of Sand

Karen Gomez

Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics





Sand, sand, glorious sand. During the summer months, you head to the beach and make sand castles, bury your older brother, or eat a few grains along with your lunch! Sand is used in construction. It is mixed with concrete, mortar and plaster when constructing buildings. It is also used with asphalt in building roads. Sand has always covered your favorite beaches, but what if all of the world’s sand just disappeared?


There is a global shortage of sand. If you do not act quickly, there will be negative impacts felt throughout the globe, such as altered coastal ecosystems, increased erosion, and increased organized crime. As policy makers, you will learn more about the shortage and decide what actions the world should take.





You and your team are to use the Public Policy Analyst (PPA) process to research:

·         What the sand shortage is

·         The evidence of the shortage

·         The science behind the impact of the sand shortage

·         Any current policies to attempt to regulate sand production and/or usage

·         New solutions to the current shortage


You will communicate your team’s solutions by choosing one of the following means:

·         Public Service Announcement (PSA)

·         Podcast (an example can be found in the resources section)

·         Video Interview





You will be in groups of five students. Each student will be responsible for a specific step of the PPA process. Confer with your group members and decide which step (2-6) you will be in charge of, as all students must make sure step 1 is completed. Make sure that your name comes first on the completed worksheet. Use the PPA process to guide your research and complete the corresponding worksheets.


Public Policy Analyst Process


1.    Define the Problem: Explain the problem you are researching. What are the impacts of running out of sand?

2.    Gather the Evidence: How do you know that this problem exists? What are some sources and statistics that demonstrate this?

3.    Identify the Causes: Who/what is responsible for this problem? What factors led to this shortage? Why is there a sand shortage?

4.    Evaluate Existing Policies: What policies already exist regarding this problem? What are the advantages/disadvantages of these policies? Should they be changed? How?

5.    Develop Solutions: Propose new solutions to this problem.

6.    Select the Best Solution: Choose the best solution. How effective (ability to solve the problem) and feasible (how possible it is to do) is it?




NPR - World Faces Global Sand Shortage – also an example of a podcast

Smithsonian Magazine - The World is Running Out of Sand

Wired - The Deadly Global War for Sand

Science Magazine - Asia’s hunger for sand takes a toll on endangered species

The Ocean Foundation - Disappearing Beaches: What can be done about global sand shortages?

The Hustle - Post-grad Students may have found the answer to the world’s sand shortage





You will be graded based on the rubric that corresponds to your group’s choice of product:






A portion of your grade will be based on the Group Evaluation Form. All members of your group are to complete their own assessment of each member.





By the end of this assignment, you will be able to communicate the reasons as to why there is a global shortage of sand and propose a solution to this problem. Hopefully you will become a passionate policy analyst and strive to solve more social problems.




HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems


ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

·         Scientists and Engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation


ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

·         When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts



·         Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.



·         Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.