SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A group of local middle school students took part in a special project Friday, May 15 at SeaWorld, as they looked at the evolution of zoos and how their role has changed over time.

Marshall Middle School students spent their day taking part in "To Zoo or Not to Zoo," which is a project developed by 2012 San Diego County Teacher of the Year recipient Joseph Lepetri.

Students had the opportunity to be up close with some of the animals, while learning the importance of saving wildlife.

“If one species goes extinct, then it can kind of affect all the other species not endangered because they all rely on each other,” said seventh grader, Ryan Mikami.

As part of the educational experience, the students also visited the Dolphin Point exhibit and met with members of the animal rescue team.