The Duncan Banner


February 20, 2012

Legacy lives on through award

DUNCAN — Marion Nottingham made be gone, but his legacy lives on.

This year, Plato Elementary School fifth-grader Caleb Mikel was the recipient of the Stephens County Science Fair award named for Nottingham. The award is the best-in-show honor for the science fair.

Although the award is given to a student each year, this is the first time the award has been given since Nottingham died. A retired science teacher and former Optimist Club member, Nottingham died March 12, 2011, at 82 years old. He had been present at the 2011 Science Fair to present the award to last year’s recipient, Darien Vassella.

This year, Mikel was given the award by Jason McIntyre, who was one of the Halliburton employees heading up this 2012 event.

Mikel’s project determined if air pressure could crush a can.

Demonstrating his project, Mikel put a tablespoon of water in aluminum cans and put the cans on a hot plate until the water began turning into vapor. From there, he turned the cans over in water (ice water, room temperature, boiling) to see if the change in temperatures would crush the cans.

What he found was that the colder the water, the more effective the crushing.

“One day I was in a hot tub and I jumped into a cool pool,” Mikel said. “I felt like I was being crushed, and I wanted to know why.”

After doing research, he began forming the thesis for his science fair project.

“I did learn a lot,” Mikel said. “Air pressure can crush cans. So can water pressure.”

The Science Fair is sponsored by both the Optimist Club and Halliburton. This year, there was a change in the people who were charge of the event. While some of those in charge have been involved, McIntyre said this is the first year for them to take full control without supervision.

“This is really the first year, trial by fire,” McIntyre said. “We’ll continue to get better next year.”

He said this year’s fair reflected a trend that has become more and more tenuous each year. In the past few years, there has been little high school participation in the fair. This year, there was no one of high school age involved from any of the schools in Stephens County.

“There’s typically not a lot of high school participation,” McIntyre said.

In all, there were 88 projects entered, and McIntyre said there are plans to increase participation next year.

“We’re going to the elementary and middle schools in November to get the word out earlier,” he said.

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