Watershed Presentation

Third grade students gather around the polluted water sample

STUDENT Teaching
OHS Junior teaches third graders about water pollution


What are watersheds, and how can students play a part in preserving local watersheds for future generations? On Wednesday, June 3, Onekama third grade students took part in a hands-on lesson, led by Onekama High School student Braden Hagen, to find out the answers to these questions.


Hagen is the student representative on the Portage Lake Watershed Forever committee. As the student representative, Hagen studied the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Plan and explored its website, attended monthly meetings, measured stream height at area streams, and researched watersheds and computer applications for watersheds. He also gave a presentation on what he learned regarding computer applications for the committee.


Additionally, Hagen completed an independent study course during the second semester of this school year, focusing on watershed protection. For the course, he wrote a college-level research paper that described watersheds, their purpose, and the importance of the Portage Lake watershed to the Onekama community. His presentation to the third grade class was the culmination of his independent study class.


The objective of the lesson was to show elementary students the impact daily activities can have on the lakes and streams. Washing cars, litter from beach picnics, motorboats, fishing, farming, gardening, and other activities can all affect our watershed adversely. Hagen conducted the lesson through a story format.


“He taught us about pollution by telling us a story, which was really cool,” said third grader Connor LeSarge. “We got to see for ourselves what happened when clean water got made dirty.”


Each student was given a film canister with a pollutant from one of those recreational activities in it. As Hagen read through his story, students came forward with their canisters and poured them into a large, clear plastic container of water. Students were able to visibly see the progression of the pollution in the water container. At the end of the presentation, he engaged in a discussion about their role in the prevention of water pollution. 


“It’s important for kids to learn about these things so that our water doesn’t get polluted,” added third grade student Jesse Fink. “That way, we will always be able to swim and fish, and the water will stay clean and nice.”

Onekama Junior Braden Hagen speaks with the 
third grade class about water pollution.
Drew McIsaac takes a turn dumping his pollutant 
and seeing the results.