The students of All Saints of St. John Vianney had never seen anything like Lake Catholic High School's vivarium.
The room is one part biology laboratory, one part botanical garden and one part museum with a little bit of shop class sprinkled in.
The vivarium houses displays on invasive species -- including buckthorn trees picked from the school's grounds -- tropical plants, a pond, a small-scale model that depicts the dangers of erosion, a composter and the beginnings of a water-filtration lab.
The fifth graders visited it Friday to learn more about birds' habits, including feeding and migration, which they learned from Lake Catholic seniors. While they enjoyed the lesson, what impressed many of them the most was the vivarium itself.
"This room is really cool. It's really different," Mary Grace Raddell said.
"We don't have anything like this," her classmate Sarah Harlan agreed.
With the help of the seniors and supervising teachers, the kids built bird feeders for their back yard and compiled guides to help them identify local birds, as well as ones that migrate through the area.
The vivarium is both a work in progress and a labor of love for teachers Scott Hudson, Tim Pira and the Lake Catholic students who have helped build it.
The classroom/lab reinforces lessons on the environment, senior Zach Daugherty said.
"We try to keep people educated by using the nature around us," he said. "I'm really happy to be a part of this.