ESSLA in Action: Floating Classroom

A boatful of passengers set sail from the Word of Life dock for a three-hour tour of Schroon Lake on ESSLA’s Floating Classroom on Wednesday, July 11. Their knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides were Jaimie and Jake of the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), an ESSLA partner.

Before launch, Jaimie and Jake led their passengers through a hands-on exercise with a model watershed. Their students spread everyday substances representing byproducts of natural and human activities on land (chocolate sauce for cow manure was a crowd-pleaser) and saw how precipitation washes those substances into the lake.

On board, Jaimie and Jake guided their class through a series of experiments. Passengers measured the lake’s clarity. They learned fun facts about Schroon Lake and the watershed (did you know the lake holds 73 billion gallons of water?!). They determined the water temperature at different depths. They collected samples of phytoplankton and zooplankton (the first link of the lake’s food chain) and viewed them under microscopes. They raked the lake bottom to collect samples of plant life and identify them.

Back on shore, Katharine of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), an ESSLA partner, gave an interesting short talk on aquatic invasive species. She brought samples of APIPP’s priority list–the five nastiest of such species threatening Adirondack lakes–for students to touch.

Happily, the weather stayed perfect throughout, with only a moment of rough seas from the wake of a passing boat that sent Petri dishes and microscopes sliding.

Many thanks to ESSLA Director John Greening for spearheading the Floating Classroom, and to ESSLA member Maryanne Smith, her husband ESSLA Director Rick Smith, ESSLA Director Eric Messer and ESSLA boat Steward Amanda Beck for their assistance with the cruise.

ESSLA also thanks Word of Life for providing the vessel and Captain Micah, as well as our partner organizations AWI and APIPP for providing their knowledgeable and fun educators.

A few spots remain for the second and final Floating Classroom of 2018 on August 15. It’s free, but space is limited. For more information and to register, visit our website at to register.

By Gary Karl, ESSLA Board of Directors

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