MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 14, 2013

Science fair winners show innovation and ingenuity

Their exhibits deal with prosthetics, ethanol

— Best in Fair exhibits at the 2013 Muskogee Regional Science and Engineering Fair could help people in years to come.

Muskogee High School senior Sam Stratton won the Senior Division with a way to ease moisture buildup in the silicone liners of prosthetics.

Muldrow Middle School eighth-grader Gideon Moore won the Junior Division by showing how to convert sawdust, newspapers and persimmons into ethanol.

Gideon and Sam had the best of 190 entries at the fair, which ran Tuesday and Wednesday at Muskogee Civic Center.

As the Senior Division winner, Sam will get an all-expenses-paid trip to the 48th Annual International Science Fair in May in Phoenix. His sponsor, MHS science teacher Terry Brossett, also gets to go.

Sam has made such trips before: He showed Best in Fair exhibits in his eighth-grade, freshman and sophomore years.

“I feel pretty great about it,” he said. “This has always been one of my passions. It really means something to win this, being my senior year.”

Brossett said Sam has always tried new projects for each science fair.

“He doesn’t continue the same project each year,” Brossett said. “He takes on a new project every year. He’s good at diversifying, like a true scientist. That gives us hope for scientific research in the future.”

Sam said he always wanted his science fair projects “to be useful for someone who has had a tragedy.”

For this year, Sam devised a way to cut tiny channels into the silicone inserts that go into prosthetics. A small vacuum pump sucked out the moisture through the channels.

Gideon said his project of converting various items into ethanol could be a good energy source.

He named his project “Sah-Lee for Power.”

“Sah-Lee is the Cherokee word for persimmon,” he said.

Gideon took one-third cup each of persimmon pulp, sawdust and newspaper. He then poured a solution of muriatic acid and water into each container and put them in an incubator. After incubating them at 40 degrees centigrade for about an hour, he added a yeast solution and incubated them at 30 degrees centigrade for 36 hours. He used coolant testing strips to determine the amount of ethanol each produced.  He concluded that, with acid hydrolysis, cellulose in waste materials can be converted into ethanol.

After he learned that he was the winner, Gideon was encouraged to call his mother, a teacher at Muldrow Middle School. But when he declined to tell her the big news, his science teacher, Kendra Phillips, called her, too.

“She shrieked,” Phillips said, adding that Gideon’s project is useful as an alternate source of energy, “especially with these high gas prices.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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