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Casey Christie / The Californian

Kern County Water Agency's Sarah Clayton uses Virginia Avenue Elementary School student Eric Munoz during the water education assembly Thursday in the cafeteria.

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Casey Christie / The Californian

Virginia Avenue Elementary School 2nd grader Michael Cisneros, along with his classmates, listens to the water education assembly speakers from the Kern County Water Agency on the importance of water.

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Sarah Clayton of the Kern County Water Agency District #4 puts on a water education assembly Thursday at the Virginia Avenue Elementary School to teach children the importance of water and conservation/

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Casey Christie / The Californian

Hands go up when questions are asked during a water education seminar Thursday at Virginia Avenue Elementary School put on by the Kern County Water Agency.

If you don't think water is fun and exciting, you need to get yourself to one of the Kern County Water Agency's water assemblies.

Not only will you be PUMPED (no pun intended) about water, but you'll also leave a little smarter about where Kern County's water comes from and how to better conserve this precious resource.

At least that's what several hundred unbelievably cute Virginia Avenue Elementary School kindergarten, first- and second-grade students seemed to get out of a water assembly they had on Thursday morning.

Water may be complicated on many levels.

But these kids quickly got the fundamentals: Water is vitally important to all our lives and we don't have a lot to go around.

Too bad these assemblies are only for youngsters.

The Kern County Water Agency has been having water assemblies of one kind or another for about 20 years.

But in recent years it switched things up to focus more on urban rather than farm water uses.

And it hired Sarah Clayton, a certified teacher, to make the assemblies interactive and energetic.

She snagged the kids' attention right off the bat with a simple question:

"How many of you like cheeseburgers and french fries?"

Easy, everyone. All hands flew up.

"How much water does it take to make a cheeseburger and fries?"

Not so easy, but the kids were hooked.

Clayton explained that farmers have to have water to grow wheat for the bun and the lettuce and tomato. Not to mention growing alfalfa for the cows, which make the hamburger and the cheese.

"And what about french fries? Where do they come from?" she asked.

"Potatoes!" the kids shouted. Good Kern County kids, they know their veggies.

OK, so how many gallons does one cheeseburger and order of fries take? A. 321, B. 98, or C. 632? (You have to get the answer on your own.)

Clayton had clearly established the importance of water and moved quickly on to personal use, such as teeth-brushing.

"How many gallons of water does it take when you leave the water running while you brush?" she asked.

She demonstrated how wasteful that is by hanging one gallon buckets on the outstretched arms of a grinning volunteer.

One bucket, two, three, finally five buckets dangled from the boy's arms. Gasps were audible from the audience.

"Is that too much?"

"Yes!" the children shouted.

She took off all but one bucket to show how much water is saved by turning off the tap while brushing.

That was much better, the kids all agreed.

She covered a lot of water territory in a short time -- the evaporation/rain water cycle, that we live in southern California but rely partly on water from northern California, the Kern River's origins way up at Mount Whitney and how that water gets to the valley, is purified and ends up in local taps, the concept of groundwater and more.


At the end she went back over what they'd learned, such as "Where does most of Kern County's drinking water come from?"

"Underwater," answered one boy enthusiastically. Close, it's underground.

"I didn't think it would be that exciting but it was a really good assembly," said second-grade teacher Christina Munzlinger. "It got their attention."

Did Mrs. Munzlinger learn anything?

"Yeah, I'm going to turn off the water when I brush now!"