Friday was a day centered on children. Local officials say the kids are the motivation behind the new aquarium at the Staten Island Zoo. Friday was the ground-breaking ceremony for the new aquarium that's slated to open in the spring of 2018.

"It's really going to be an incredible cultural and educational experience," said Dr. Feniosky Pena-More, the Commissioner from the Department of Design and Construction.

It’s an experience children say they’re looking forward to. Several kids from the YMCA across the street from the zoo were at the ceremony as guests of honor where they shared their favorite part of the aquarium.

"Kids have that incredible connection with animals,” said Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner with the Department of Cultural Affairs. “And I think this being such an aquatic environment in Staten Island, I think people see the ocean and experience water all the time. It's going to bring it home to them," he continued.

The old aquarium was built in the mid-80s and officials say it was time for an upgrade. That upgrade comes with an $8.48 million price tag. Several elected officials allocated money to help foot the bill.

"It's all for the kids and it helps us with our educational and conservation missions here at the Staten Island Zoo," said Ken Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Staten Island Zoo.

"It's really important that the kids particularly as they're growing older they really understand what is our relationship with water," said Pena-Mora.

The new aquarium will be much different from the old, featuring four large floor to ceiling tanks. The goal is to make people almost feel like they're in the water with the fish.

"They will have an opportunity to have experiential learning. They will be able to almost be immersed," said Pena-Mora.