Gilbert H. Hood Middle School science teacher Fran Leach works with seventh-graders Allison Stack, 13, and Trevor Mensinger, 12, on photos they took using the digital microscope.

DERRY | Seventh-graders Allison Stack and Trevor Mensinger are using pictures of the "stuff" they found in pond water for a video they're making with some of their classmates.

Their group worked on a public service announcement about dirty water and the hazards of drinking it, Allison said. Using a digital microscope attached to a laptop computer, they took photos of the microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, that can be found in pond water.

"We saw things more, and that was really cool," Allison said of the new equipment.

The microscope, computer and 13 student microscopes were among the items their Gilbert H. Hood science teacher, Fran Leach, was able to buy with a $5,000 "mini-grant" for technology. Leach said the digital microscope is a helpful teaching tool because the whole class can view what's under the microscope, which can be hooked up to a TV or overhead projector in addition to a computer.

In Leach's grant proposal, she pitched the water project her students worked on. "Don't drink the water," as she called it, centered on the idea that students should be aware of what might be in water before drinking it, especially when they are traveling.

"They got the idea that not everything is safe to drink," she said.

Students learned about bacteria, what illnesses a person can contract from drinking contaminated water, and the process used to clean water.

"The kids were fascinated at how many steps it took to get from lake to faucet," Leach said.

Students wrote children's books about the water purification process, built model water filters and wrote public-service announcements about diseases people can contract from water. Though the water filters made water clear, it still wasn't drinkable because they didn't chlorinate it, she said.

Leach said the students will also give presentations in class about their projects.

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