The Duncan Banner

February 17, 2013

Optimist Science Fair challenges young minds

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Ian McEntire knows about composting and electricity. He’s got the awards today to prove it.

McEntire, a fifth-grade student, walked away Saturday with the Nottingham Award and the first place in the fifth grade engineering category and the Halliburton Environmental Award for overall projects.

McEntire, whose project was titled “Can House Compost Produce Electricity?” said it took him three weeks to complete the project.

The Nottingham Award is the Best of Show in the annual Duncan Optimist Club Science Fair and the Halliburton Environmental Award was first place for McEntire.

Area youth from throughout the region had their science projects judged Friday at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. The show opened Saturday to the public.

Every year since about 1963, the Duncan Optimist Club gives aspiring scientists the opportunity to showcase their talent. Projects filled the rooms of the fairgrounds building, all from students between fifth and 12th grade.

The Optimist Club handed out 57 awards at the weekend’s award ceremony, including the coveted Best in Show — the Nottingham Award. The Nottingham Award is named after Marion Nottingham, a science teacher who educated Duncan children in the field for many years. His wife, Mary Nottingham, was on hand to present the 2013 Nottingham Award to McEntire.

The young scientist’s device was spurred on by discussions of alternative energy. McEntire created a cylindrical-shaped object that contained compost and electrical parts to transmit energy with a light that blinked if electricity was being produced.

“I saw that alternative energy was a big thing and I saw that you could produce electricity from mud,” he said. “I kept on reading and I saw there was nothing about compost producing electricity so I made this device and it has been producing electricity. It is causing this light to blink.”

McEntire monitored the output of it every other day.

“I connected the anode and the cathode to the lid and filled it up with compost,” he said. “I took the voltage every other day and it kept on hovering about .35 volts.”

McEntire said science is one of his favorite subjects and he plans to enter the Optimist Club Science Fair again next year.

Until then, he plans to continue working with his current project and developing it.

“I want to see if I put these in a series and see if I can power something in my house,” he said.

McEntire said he has enjoyed coming home from school to see if his device was still blinking and if it still worked.  

Fifth grade winners were Jacob Junghelm, Luke Cerney, Ryan Murrah, Ian McEntire, Kayla Vines, Emma Morris, Peyton Booth, Caleb Seely, Chandler Hicks, Brayden Thomas, Lincoln Fitts, Jaxon Gregston, Vanessa Cassidy

Sixth grade winners  were Cole  Newport, Jose Garza, Phylip Gibbs, Madison Baker, Cameron Freeman, Jayne Gregston and Raylee Pain, Carson Kinnaird and Cameron Giles, Lauren Hennan, Alli Spurlock, Aubrey Bowden, Kaitlyn Bobbitt and Caitlin Taylor, Devin Moore and Ashlynn Pharaoh, Caleb Mikel, Kolby Mahaffey

Seventh through ninth grade winners were, Hannah Case, Connie Todd, Samantha Payne, Brittany Caton and Tyler Esquibel, Ryley Dumas, Kodee West, Jessica Warford, Logan Churchman and Kyndall Lindse, Brian Skinner and Sabrina Arredondo.

Special awards

Environmental— Ian McEntire

Engineering — Phylip Gibbs

Health Science — Carson Kinnaird and Cameron Giles

Agricultural Science — Logan Churchman

Life Science — Brian Skinner and Sabrina Arredondo

Physical Science — Ryley Dumas

Outstanding Female Scientist — Vanessa Cassidy

Teacher of the  Year — Lisa Pryor of Marlow

Nottingham Best of Show — Ian McEntire



This year’s Science Fair Speaker was Charnell Temple, a human resources employee with Halliburton. She spoke on the topic “False Evidence Appearing  Real,” encouraging kids to have the courage to overcome fear in their projects.

“Do not let fear stop you,” she said.

“Learn your science and math and I am telling you, you can do anything.”

Jean Schalit, president of Duncan’s Optimist Club, said she was pleased with the turnout for the event even though she said it was slightly smaller than years before. Schalit said Duncan’s Optimist Club’s membership, and other civic groups, has been down for the past few years.

She encouraged people to join the Optimist Club and other civic groups to allow activities such as the Science Fair and Kiddieland to continue in the Duncan community.

For information on the club, call Schalit at 470-8805.