Take Students on the Watershed Sleuth Challenge
Lisa Beach

Do your students know what a watershed is, why it’s important, and what they can do to help protect it? If not, tie into American Wetlands Month with a gamified research project on watersheds (a land area that drains to a central location, such as a lake, river, or ocean).

First, why even celebrate wetlands? Because they serve as a natural filter that helps improve the overall health of waters in our communities. Wetlands are highly effective in removing toxic substances, extra nutrients, harmful contaminants, and sediment from water that flows through them. Plus, they can protect against flooding, serve as habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide lots of fun recreational opportunities. Once students understand the many benefits of wetlands (and why they should be conserved), they can learn how to protect wetlands from threats such as pollution, agricultural runoff, or stormwater from development.

Now, back to the game! It’s called the Watershed Sleuth Challenge, and it taps into kids’ desire to earn badges and “level up” as they make their way through this three-part course:

  • Watershed Sleuth: Students play detective and gather facts as they learn watershed basics. Where does the water come from, where does it go, and what does it do along the way? They’ll also build a virtual aquifer and find the watershed closest to their community.
  • Watershed Guardian: With facts in hand, students then identify the threats to water quality, some of which might come from (yikes!) their own home. Fortunately, students also learn how to reduce these threats and help protect water quality at home.
  • Watershed Hero: Finally, it’s time for students to take their newfound knowledge beyond their home and out into their community. They’ll determine if there are steps that they (and their neighbors) can take to better protect local water quality.

If possible, a hands-on field trip to nearby wetlands can drive the lessons home by showing students what a wetland looks like and how its many parts function together.

Spring into action—and celebrate wetlands—by engaging your students with our free Watershed Sleuth Challenge!