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Southmoreland Elementary students win at Physics Fun Fair

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:15 p.m.
Southmoreland Elementary School students (from left) Madeline Grote, Sydney Bodenheimer and Nick Bodenheimer notched top prizes in the recent Fun with Physics Fair at Trafford Elementary School.
Southmoreland Elementary School students (from left) Madeline Grote, Sydney Bodenheimer and Nick Bodenheimer notched top prizes in the recent Fun with Physics Fair at Trafford Elementary School.

Three students at Southmoreland Elementary School were recently honored for their ingenuity.

They participated in the Fun With Physics fair at Trafford Elementary School May 6 featuring students from seven area school districts.

Students in second and third grade took part in the marble run portion of the competition and fourth-grade students developed pinball machines.

Nick Bodenheimer captured first place for his pinball machine and Madeline Grote placed third. Sydney Bodenheimer — Nick's sister —placed third in the marble run.

Lisa Shinsky, Southmoreland's K-8 gifted coordinator, explained the marble run was based on reverse engineering.

“(They had to) make it as slow as possible,” Shinsky explained. “They were judged on different categories (such as) appearance, if it was actually made by a child and then the timing, how long it takes the marble get to the bottom.”

In Sydney Bodenhemier's creation, it took the marble 33.1 seconds to complete the course which carried an animal theme.

“I love animals,” she admitted. “I took the theme since I went to the zoo and saw some fantastic animals and I love zoos.”

Shinsky said a key with the pinball machines was how functional they were.

“They were measured on do they work, how intricate they were and the appearance,” Shinsky said.

Nick Bodenheimer explained that his project took into effect the characteristics of a spy.

“It's top secret,” he said. “So we put magnifying glasses (on it). There's targets, fingerprints. I didn't want it to be something a little kid will do. I didn't want to seem like I was some really childish child.”

How did he feel about capturing first place with his “top secret” pinball machine?

“It felt awesome,” he said.

Grote's pinball machine carried the theme of popular singer Taylor Swift.

“(She is) my favorite singer and I thought it should have that theme,” Grote said. “(I like) her songs.”

Shinsky was impressed with the work of her students in preparation for the Fun with Physics Fair.

“These were some really great ideas,” she said. “They love it. I didn't give them much direction because I wanted to see where their (imaginations) would take them. There was a lot of frustration, more so from the parents, because they didn't have exact directions...I did that on purpose. We all decided as teachers we were going to do that. There were no themes. They took it on their own.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editorfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or

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