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Diving to learn

Breathing underwater something they’d never done before

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Diver’s World Instructor Larry Schaller talks to a group of students as Holden Demers tries out his scuba gear at the Warren County YMCA swimming pool.

A group of Warren County students dove into a recent educational opportunity.

A total of 42 students in the gifted support program from all four district attendance areas went to the Warren County YMCA for a sort of culminating activity from a year-long unit on the Great Lakes, erosion, weather, climate change, and shipwrecks.

The students moved through four stations around the Y pool.

The Regional Science Corsortium organized the event, bringing the students together with RSC personnel, and a team from Diver’s World.

The six divers brought 12 sets of gear in addition to the ones they wore themselves. They introduced students to scuba diving — with each student given a rig and spending up to 15 minutes under water. “It’s a short and sweet introduction to scuba and snorkeling,” Ron Hunt said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Students dive into an educational opportunity at Warren County YMCA.

“This is the coolest thing ever,” Josh Pikna said after removing his regulator so he could be understood.

“I got a little uncomfortable” breathing underwater for the first time, Aubrey Carrington said. But, “it was really fun.”

“I’m alive after breathing underwater,” Holden Demers said. “It felt weird. It’s something I’d never done before.”

“When we first started to get the equipment on, I was a little nervous,” Ashley Striker said. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to adjust to the mouthpiece thing… the regulator.”

“When I started breathing through the regulator, it was like breathing normally,” Striker said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Emma Peterson leads a group of students across the Warren County YMCA swimming pool toward Diver’s World Instructor Larry Schaller.

The divers do some work for the consortium and they passed along a sample of those responsibilities to the students.

“What they’re learning today is how we train our dive team to do a survey and inventory,” Executive Director Jeanette Schnars said.

So, students performed a number of tasks that would be part of a survey or inventory of a shipwreck.

In the shallow end, students in scuba gear, examine the outlines of a shipwreck.

In deeper water, snorkeling students had to swim across the pool, checking out whatever was beneath them on the bottom of the pool, then describe what they saw to a partner.

There were artifacts, from a suspected cannon ball to coins and less easily identified metal items.

Every student participated in creating a photomosaic.

An image from above a shipwreck was put on the floor of the pool with a grid of ropes across it. Each student was assigned to make a detailed and accurate drawing of what they saw in their grid space. When the drawings were put together, they showed the whole image.

Sort of.

Not every student said the chance to go scuba diving was their favorite.

“My favorite part was seeing people’s drawings of the photo mosaic,” Kamryn Loucks said. “They were really weird and they didn’t match up at all.”

Still, Loucks was a fan of the scuba part. “It was pretty amazing,” she said. “I will probably do it again if I get the chance.”

The experience was part of the Bay Watershed Education Training program.

Students also visited the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and the Erie Maritime Museum during the unit.

Expenses were offset through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Schnars said.

The event was held before school activities were shut down by mandate of the governor and the YMCA was also closed.

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