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A Spring Grove Area sophomore sat in the center of his school's five-man team and gingerly unwrapped a handmade package to reveal a lone Pringle.

David Taglieri gingerly pulled the chip out of the package, and the entire team let out short exclamation upon realizing it remained unbroken. After the chip was weighed by one of the Dallastown teachers judging the "Pringle Crunch" competition — one of many events in the 24th Annual Physics Olympics at Dallastown Area High School — he handed it back to David, who then popped the chip in his mouth.

The challenge was simple: create a package that would protect the chip as it traveled through the mail to Dallastown Area High School; the team with the lightest and smallest package while also having an intact Pringle would be the winner.

The Spring Grove team, one of several competing for the district, created a box out of a card stock folder and filled it with cotton balls, explained senior David Williams. The team then cut off the top of the Pringles' tube-shaped container and used the ring as further protection.

The Olympians from Spring Grove left the challenge feeling confident.

Just down the hall, one of Dallastown's teams was participating in the "Give me a Lift" challenge, which entails weighing down a helium-filled balloon — within in a four-minute time frame —  with tin foil to slow its ascent to the ceiling as much as possible. If the balloon no longer floated or took longer than three minutes to hit the ceiling, the team would be disqualified.

The team had a strategy going in but ended up feeling the pressure of their time limit.

"We took the volume of the balloon and we started to measure things out but eventually we just had to start cutting pieces (of tin foil) to attach," said Lauren Cooksey, a senior at Dallastown.

Her teammate, Blake Sebring, a junior, had even prepared an equation.

The Olympics: For the past 24 years, Dallastown Area High School has hosted the Physics Olympics for its own students and Olympian-hopefuls from other districts. This year the school hosted students from Dover, Hanover, Red Lion, Spring Grove, Susquehannock, West York and William Penn high schools— the most outside participation the event has seen yet.

"It's just really great to see all the interscholastic competition," said Mark Ilyes, a physics teacher at Dallastown.

The two-day event, which has a series of competitions rooted in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles, is sponsored by the Engineering Society of York. There is a cash award for the top two placing teams — $100 and $50 — as well as special awards for the two engineering events, including "Pringle Crunch."

Students on the top three teams also receive a laboratory report gift certificate which may be used in place of one lab report for the remaining school year.

The competition will wrap Wednesday evening, and the winners will be announced afterward.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.

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