Thanks to a $800 grant by Target, 52 students in Barbara Jacobs' special education classes at Sultana High School enjoyed a field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach on April 9.


Joined by 11 chaperones, the students witnessed many amazing aquatic creatures. And for some, they saw the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.


The all-day excursion began at 7:15 a.m. when students boarded a bus bound for the Pacific. The event ended more than 12 hours later when the party arrived back to Hesperia.


The high schoolers' main focus was career education (maritime careers in this instance) and hands-on science.


"Students learned about careers, from studying marine life to taking care of habitats to the all-familiar animal training such as working with orca or dolphins," Jacobs said. They also learned about careers in public education of maritime issues and oceanic preservation, she added.


According to Jacobs, the aquarium exhibits were stunning. Especially captivating were jelly fish, hairy sand dollars, fish with eyes only on one side of their heads and bizarre but beautiful sea horses.


But there was more.


"The otter exhibit was fun to watch, and the feeding of the sharks was entertaining."


Education was the centerpiece of the event, and the Sultana students had the opportunity to learn by doing.


"One activity the students enjoyed in our special class session at the aquarium was the creation of a two-tiered aquarium tank. The top half of the tank is where the display of fish and plants are kept. The bottom half of the tank is where all the cleaning of the tank takes place, including the underwater pump, bacteria eating animals, and other elements. This is how the aquarium keeps their tanks so clean; they have two laywers of which the bottom layer visitors do not see."