This is the kind of math Sister Ann Fanella’s students like to do: if one 10-cent packet can purify two and a half gallons of water, and students at St. Robert Bellarmine School, 6036 W. Eastwood Ave., collected $1,100 for a clean water project in Africa, how much clean water have they provided? The answer is 27,500 gallons, as of April 11, with four more school days to go before the collection — timed to occur during Lent — ended on April 17, said Sister Ann, who teaches math to sixth-, seventh- and eighthgraders at the school. The project is part of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur’s larger photovoltaic project, in which the congregation is raising money to buy solar panels for its mission areas in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. The power generated by the solar panels will be used, in part, to purify water. But in the meantime, before the money is raised and the solar panels are installed, the water is still dirty. That’s where the clean water project at St. Robert comes in. “Proctor & Gamble makes these packets for a dime each,” Sister Ann said, “And they are from Cincinnati, where our motherhouse is. So we’re doing this in schools where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are teaching or have taught. We’re calling it ‘A Dime a Day for Clean Water.’” “It’s something that our students can relate to,” said Carrie Mijal, principal of St. Robert. “They’re helping children their own age, and they can do it by deciding not to buy chips one day. That can be five days of clean water for somebody.” So far, most of the donations that have come in are coins out of children’s pockets, so they seem to have taken ownership of the project, Sister Ann said. Each packet is supposed to make the water 99.9 percent pure and safe to drink, she said. That’s extremely important in areas where dysentery and diarrhea are primary killers, especially of children. “Clean water can reduce the rate of disease by 50 percent,” Sister Ann said. Sister Ann and Sister Lea Cozzini, who teaches religion to seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Robert, demonstrated the packets to students at the school — “Proctor & Gamble even sent the dirt to put in the water for the demonstration,” Sister Ann said — and asked the students to bring in their own money to help buy water purification packets. “We wanted them to help the children in Africa,” Sister Ann said. “Although of course, it won’t just help children. Our sisters run schools and clinics in those mission areas.” Mijal said that when the sisters approached her about the project, she was all for it, and she’d be happy to repeat it next year. In addition to the math problem Sister Ann gave her students, the project also has connections to social studies and religion. “It all comes down to how we are supposed to treat other people,” Mijal said. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are continuing to work on their $1 million fundraising goal for the photovoltaic project, which started in 2005. Since then, they have been able to install solar panels at five sites in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to running water purification systems, the electricity generated by the panels powers lights, medical equipment and computers that give the site access to the internet.