A group of elementary school students from Buffalo put down their books for a "shipboard education" about issues impacting the Great Lakes.
About 25 students from Frank Sedita Academy took part in an interactive sail aboard the Spirit of Buffalo Wednesday.
Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education Executive Director Kate Hilliman says the program includes a series of hands-on science learning stations.
"We talk about lake ecology, lake biology. We also do some nautical science. We do some navigation and applied mathematics," Hilliman said.
"But we're looking at plankton, the food chain (and) we actually take a sample of the bottom of the lake. They dig through that. Look for invertebrates. Look for invasive species. We do a bird station where they're learning about why this is such an incredible resource for birds and migratory species. So they rotate through all those different stations in the three hours they're on the boat."
Students also heard from scientist Terry Yonker with the Western New York Environmental Alliance who talked about the impact climate change is having locally.
Yonker says he's seen a number of changes on the lakes over the past several decades. He tries to gets kids thinking about what will happen to the region if, as predicted, water levels keep decreasing.
"We forget about the amount of water we need to flow over Niagara Falls to keep tourists here for instance. So it's all tied in."
Before they set sail, Assemblymember Sean Ryan encouraged the young students to band together to help improve the environment.