All aboard the floating classroom: fifth-grade students explore Saratoga Lake’s ecosystem

*The following is a story from the June 1, 2024 edition of the Saratoga Lake Association’s “Shore Lines” Newsletter. All text and photos are credited to the Saratoga Lake Association. Read the full newsletter here.*

The Floating Classroom

Students listening to speaker as they stand on the shoreline of the lake.

On May 31st, the General Schuyler was the setting for Adirondack Cruise Lines and the Saratoga Lake Association’s second year of The Floating Classroom. Attended by the fifth-grade of Stillwater/Mechanicville schools, this replica of a 50′ fantail steamboat provided a historic and scientific background, as the fifth-graders learned about the Seechi disk to measure water quality, phytoplankton and zooplankton, water temperature, dissolved oxygen and their affect on the lake. And they had a great time doing it!

Students standing on field with teacher and captain, listening to the captain speak.

Kerry Wantuch, Stillwater fifth-grade teacher, and lake resident, said, “The Saratoga Lake experience encompasses education, fun and the beauty of a local resource for students. Captain Hal and the staff are so knowledgeable about the lake, it’s plat/wildlife and conservation. The program is interactive and gives students an opportunity to explore the lakeside ecosystem. Students were able to measure depth, water clarity and see plankton up close. The boat ride enhances the excitement. Thank you for an amazing experience.”

Students sitting on a steamboat.

Thanks to the generosity of lake resident and scientist Joan Dash, SLA is able to provide this program to students and others interested in learning about the lake. We learn that everything we do from dropping plastic bottles, and fishing line and other refuse that does not belong in the lake, using fertilizers near the lake, (and in the entire watershed), has an affect on the water quality of the lake.

Keeping the lake clean for future generations is up to us. Thanks to Captain Hal and the team at SLA for putting together this excellent program. We will expand this program as it fits in with our mission of education, advocacy and community engagement.

Captain showing students an organism from the lake in a jar.