ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Most people come to Ontario Beach Park to tan. About 30 Rochester-area students came to the beach for a little more enlightenment. They’re participating in this year’s Get Real! Science Camp, which hopes to bring the classroom to life.

“Sometimes when you just throw a book in front of a kid in a science lab and you say, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’ it's not exciting," said program organizer Jeremy Smith of the NEAD Freedom School. "But when you bring them to a beach and you let them be kids and you let them engage in the science, you get a different kind of response from it. That’s what you’re seeing here in the science camp.”

At Ontario Beach Park, visitors are currently permitted to swim in a designated area. Anything in the roped off area has been deemed unsafe for swimming. Students are conducting water quality studies to see if the lake is actually safer on the open side.

“Today, the group we’re in, we came to the beach to test the pH bacteria levels and the temperatures to see what’s the difference between the open and closed parts,” said Andre Watson of Rochester, a program participant.

The program is run by University of Rochester education students.

“If you don’t bring them out of the classroom and get them in here working with stuff, you’d never find out all the things that they can bring to the table and really contribute to an authentic science investigation. They’re doing real science here, and they actually can make real impact,” said program leader Dan Baker of the University of Rochester.  

That impact will be seen when the students present their findings to the public next week.

“These ideas and these questions that they’re bringing up to the beach... I would hope that the city would use this as a way to move forward, and bettering the beach," said Smith. "That way everybody can enjoy the beach and not just certain parts.”