Five Nichols Elementary School students crowd around city employee Thomas Rodriguez as he maneuvers a remote control camera used to check for blockages in wastewater pipes to show three kids waving, dancing and jumping up and down.
As the kids appear on the screen, the first-graders yell, "Logan is dancing!" and "I see you, Leslie!"
The camera demonstration at Lodi Municipal Service Center on Wednesday morning allowed four classes of elementary school students to get a glimpse of the jobs city employees in Public Works perform on a daily basis.
Students also watched Jose Vargas and Aaron Roehrich paint an "o" on the ground to spell out the word "stop." The kids yelled while pushing the button to raise and lower a GrapeLine bus. They also got to jump up into a fire truck, where they played with controls and looked in the cab.
Even something as simple as watching the street sweeper run caused a flurry of conversations.
Fleet Supervisor Randy Laney answered about 15 questions about the street sweeper. No, a dog has never been sucked up into the shoot, but rocks have. Streets sweepers do not crush cars because the drivers are trained to avoid vehicles. And in a battle of street sweeper versus Legos, the street sweeper would win.
First-grade teacher Karen Isaak said her students look forward to the field trip each year.
"They never get to see these types of occupations and workers up close. It's also nice to see our tax dollars at work," she said.
The city organizes the field trips annually, but the students have not been able to see where employees work on city vehicles since 2007 because there has been ongoing construction in the area, said Rebecca Areida-Yadav, a city management analyst.
City employees wanted to bring back the field trips because the students get so excited, Areida-Yadav said. Plus, it was a great way to highlight and celebrate National Public Works Week.
"It shows the public what we do because we are a big chunk of the city. We also try to emphasize safety to the kids around big vehicles," she said.
Often, when kids see the street sweeper, a fire truck or another large vehicle, they might walk toward it to see what's going on or chase the trucks on their bike. Several of the employees told them that if there are cones out or the lights are on, that kids should steer clear.
Seven-year-old Sierra Drull said she learned the most about the street sweeper.
"The sweeper keeps stuff off the street so no one steps on it," she said.
Breanna Anderson was on the tour with her daughter, McKenna, and her two younger children.
"I thought it was cool how when they were painting 'stop' on the street, the teacher said, 'See kids, you need to know your letters,'" Anderson said.