Living Classrooms


Through the Living Classrooms Program, Cradle Beach continues to serve Western New York children by blending science concepts and outdoor recreation together to excite and engage learning. We work with community schools and organizations to strengthen our program, aligning curriculum with New York State New Generation Science Standards and creating a fun and authentic learning environment.

We provide hands-on, experiential education with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. With over 60 acres of land and 1,200 feet of lakefront shoreline, Cradle Beach is a natural location for year-round experiential out-of-school STEM education. Living Classrooms is offered as a stand-alone program that schools and community organizations can access and it is also embedded into our Summer Camp and Project SOAR programs.


The Great Lakes Explorers Club is an after-school science club offered at several different Buffalo Public Schools, funded through the NOAA Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training grant. Middle school students learn about the local watershed, issues that affect water quality in our local water, and complete a project to better help the community's environment while also educating public citizens of issues. Students also attend several field trips to enrich prior and current learning that involve kayaking on the Buffalo River, hiking within a county park, exploring headwater areas within our watershed, and touring a City Water Pump Station.

While in the Great Lakes Explorers Club, students are exposed to a variety of state and federal organizations to explore different careers and issues related to water-resources and conduct water quality testing on a local river. Examples of past organizations we have worked with include the New York State Sea Grant, Buffalo Audubon Society, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Department of Environmental Conservation, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Fish and Wildlife.


Through collaboration with Buffalo State College, the Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Partnership (ISEP) at the University of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Museum of Science, we have developed a variety of science activities within Cradle Beach Summer Camp to go along with regular camp programming. Examples of past summer camp activities include:

·        Close-up observations of aquatic macro-invertebrates

·        Dropping an egg-holding contraption from a large height to protect a raw egg

·        Understanding concepts within crime scene investigations

·        Making ice cream to understand physical changes

·        Making slime to understand polymers

Along with Summer Camp, Living Classrooms also works with the Project SOAR Program to provide science activities during the summer and on weekend retreats during the school year. Many students in both the Project SOAR and Summer Camp programs learn concepts that are taught in the classroom, but experienced within Living Classrooms.


Living Classrooms offers year-round programming to schools and other community groups that would like STEM concepts exposed to their students. We are constantly adding engaging hands-on activities to offer more to schools and organizational groups. The following activities are a select few that we have offered to groups in the past, and may be modified if need be for participants. For a complete and updated list, please call or email us.

·        Animal Dissection - Students learn about animal physiology and anatomy through dissecting an animal specimen. Animal specimens available must be requested at least 4 weeks prior to program date. Common specimens include fish, mice, rats, and frogs.

·        Balloon Rocket Cars - Students work in small groups to build a balloon rocket car to demonstrate Newton's Third Law of Motion, then use the Scientific Method to modify the car design to make it move faster or farther.

·        Decomposing! - Best for large groups, students learn about the decomposition process and play an active running simulation where they are all plants trying to survive in a world where disease and parasites are after them!

·        Mini-Solar Cars - Students work in small groups to build a mini-solar car that is able to move using common materials. Students are encouraged to be creative leaders in the design and construction of their car, testing out various ideas to ensure that their car is able to function.

·        Predator-Prey - Best for large groups, students gain an understanding of predator/prey relationships by participating in an active running activity that simulates actual predator/prey populations.

·        Sundial Building - Students use the beach on property to build a temporary sundial using a handheld compass for assistance, understanding that the movement of the Earth creates patterns that we can see throughout the year.