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Event draws 2,000 6th graders
Mantecas Water Treatment Operations supervisor George Montross explains to a student the different water sources in the ground as shown in the visual device he brought to Planet Party Day Thursday at the Manteca Unified School District grounds. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The 94-degree temperature Thursday was no match for the enthusiasm of nearly 2,000 energetic sixth graders who turned out for the second annual Planet Party Day.

They peppered the s presenters from nearly four scores of businesses with questions about recycling, planting and irrigating trees and orchards, drip irrigation, and the effects of commuting on clean air to mention just a few of the many topics discussed and presented.

Many students were intrigued about the visual aid featured in the City of Manteca’s booth which showed a clear cut-out of the different sources of water deep in the ground. Answering questions from the curious students was Water Treatment Operations Supervisor George Montross of the Manteca Public Works Department.

In the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s booth, the students kept conservation coordinator Julie Vrieling on her toes with inquiries about how the waters from the reservoirs and dams in the hills get to the valley below. A miniature display showing the topography of the foothills and the valley complete with such water features as rivers and reservoirs raised the students’ curiosity.

In the Commute Connection booth, students kept a lively interaction with the presenters while learning the different ways that they can get around without utilizing a car and help keep their air clean at the same time.

One of the interactive things that piqued a lot of interest was the demonstration where the students found they could make a fruit shake by using energy powered by pedaling a stationary bike.

Students such as Imani Rose of Great Valley Elementary School at Weston Ranch said they learned a lot from the event. She learned, for example, that “you can recycle carpets,” she said, and that what that is discharged “goes down the drain and become wastewater.”

Her friend Jessica Alvarez said, “I liked how Mr. (Brent) Holtz presented how water works and what happens if farmers discharge water in the ground.”

Holtz is a county director and farm advisor with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Victoria Brunn, Manteca Unified’s Energy Education Specialist, said this year’s Planet Party Day involved the participation of 70 different businesses. They included business sponsors of different levels and presenters. Brunn and Director of Nutrition Services Patty Page shared coordinator responsibilities.

The students invited to the Planet Party Day 2011 came from the schools in the Manteca Unified School District.