Teach the Earth > Visualization > Teaching Activities > Chesapeake Interactive Modeling Project

the Chesapeake Interactive Modeling Project (CHIMP)

Jay A. Austin
Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth
Author Profile


CHIMP is an interactive numerical model of Chesapeake Bay circulation. Users can vary freshwater flux and wind speed/direction and observe the response in real time, with several visualization options.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This tool has potential for use in High School classrooms to aid in instruction on a variety of topics (density, velocity, basic ideas regarding circulation, etc), as well as undergraduate and graduate courses on Coastal/Estuarine circulation.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The rationale for CHIMP is to make a complex numerical modeling tool "transparent" so that prior experience with numerical models is not at all necessary- instead, the student can focus on learning about how estuaries work. Having some background in estuarine circulation will help students to interpret results; however, the immediate feedback to changes in forcing is meant as an intuition-building tool.

How the activity is situated in the course

I am not currently teaching anything where this tool would be useful, but faculty at other universities are. We are currently funded to develop lesson plans for the use of this model in HS classrooms.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The project focuses on concepts of wind-driven circulation and mixing in estuaries, the impact of freshwater flux, variability in surface elevation, the influence of tides.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This is meant as an intuition-building tool, allowing students to explore for themselves the impact of various forcing mechanisms on an estuary. It is not currently configured for more sophisticated analytical approaches, though our current funding (Minnesota Sea Grant) will change that.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

The model itself can be downloaded at http://www.d.umn.edu/~jaustin/CHIMP.html and installed on WINDOWS machines. There is also a much more detailed description of the project and our recent funding.

See more Teaching Activities »