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The Watershed Game

March 26, 2018

Suzanne KehretMinnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) has a number of educational and interactive displays and exhibits individuals in our communities can check out to use when teaching others about watersheds. Recently, Suzanne Kehret, a high school teacher at Orono High School stopped by to pick up the Watershed Game to use in her AP Environmental Science classroom (her third year using the game), and we asked her a bit more about how she uses the game to teach her students about watersheds. The game has students act as land use managers to try to reduce pollution by investing in best management practices (BMPs).

In Suzanne's classroom, the day before the class plays the game the students learn the basics of what a watershed is and where surface water pollution can come from. They then use the game to learn different watershed management tools that can be used to reduce pollution. During the game, the students not only look at the environmental impact of the different pollution solutions, but also the economic impact of those solutions and the costs to implement them while focusing on the triple bottom line (people, planet, profits).

Watershed GameSuzanne and the students then uses the EPA tool "Surf Your Watershed" to find impaired waterbodies near Orono High School and investigate the reasons for impairment. They then use a modified version of the EPA's "Tracking Pollution" activity to create a topographical map from the data in the activity (which focuses on contaminated groundwater and tracking how the water became polluted). The students use the data from the activity to create a topographical map and a 3D model to track water movement in the Minnehaha Creek watershed. From the map, model, and data, students must identify the most likely source of the original water pollution.

This kind of hands-on learning provides students with real-life scenarios that help them understand the issues facing our watershed and the possible solutions. To learn how you might use MCWD's interactive displays and resources to teach others about watersheds and solutions to pollution, please contact MCWD's Education Manager.