Twenty-one Rock Hill eighth-graders traded in their shoes for rubber wading boots Wednesday on a field trip to River Park.
Students collected water samples, tested for chemicals, searched for macroinvertebrates and observed the environment around Manchester Stream.
"My goal is to get them outside, and this will get them outside," Phoenix Academy science teacher Sherry East said. "I want them to see that they're connected to the world and their actions affect the world around them."
The field trip was for students in Phoenix Bound, a program that accelerates older middle school students into high school.
An abundance of shrieks and giggles filled the air as students waded through the creek with buckets and nets, turning over rocks in search of bugs.
Even students who normally don't like science said they enjoyed themselves.
"It stank, but it's fun catching the stuff," Le-Kierra Johnson said, proudly pointing out a crayfish she found in the stream.
Students said the field trip was more fun than a typical classroom day.
"I learn more when I'm on field trips than in the classroom," Wil Parrish said.
In addition to the planned science activities, East said the trip could help students learn about the drought.
Students were able to walk on rocks through much of the creek because the water is so low.
Jane Falkenstein, a city environmental educator who led the trip, said the activities give students a broader understanding of water quality, not just whether water is fit to drink.
"It goes beyond the human needs to how what human beings do affects the water quality," she said.
Falkenstein said the results of the students' water tests will be added to a database on York Technical College's Web site.