July 20th, 2018

Science Smarts: Pop! goes that delicious popcorn

By Medicine Hat News on April 14, 2018.

It is hard to believe that science fair is over for another year! I really enjoyed seeing all of the students from southeastern Alberta at the Regional Science Fair just before the spring break. You all worked hard and I am so very proud of all of you. I hope you learned something and will be looking over the next few months for your next project! Before you know it, the time will be here for us to start once again. This year, I had quite a few projects about popcorn. I do not know how you all did this, as popcorn is probably my No. 1 snack. I think I would have eaten all of my materials. This is one experiment I did not see though. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Let’s get started!

* Remember to ask an adult before doing this experiment.


-popcorn kernels

-2 large sheet pans for the oven


-air popper for popcorn

-science notebook



1. Have an adult help you set the oven to 95¡C (200 ¡F). Allow it to preheat.

2. Measure out 125 mL (1/4 cup) of popcorn kernels; pour it out on the sheet pan and count the number of kernels. Record in your science notebook.

3. Repeat No. 1 on a separate sheet pan.

4. Make sure the popcorn kernels are spread out evenly on the sheet pan. Ask an adult to place this in the oven. Allow them to remain in the oven for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.

5. Pop the kernels in the air popper.

6. Count how many kernels did not pop and record in your science notebook.

7. Using the air popper, place the second batch of popcorn kernels in the oven.

8. Count the number of kernels that did not pop and record in your science notebook.

9. Compare your results.

10. Do the kernels look the same?

11. Does it taste the same?

What is going on?

Did you know that popcorn is a special type of corn? It is actually the only kind that will pop into white fluffy kernels for you to enjoy when you watch a movie! Inside the kernel of the popcorn is a tiny amount of water surrounded by that hard outer shell or hull. As the popcorn is heated up in the air popper, this water eventually turns to steam, and since it is enclosed by this hard outer shell, there is such a buildup of pressure that it eventually has to burst out of the shell.

By heating the popcorn in the oven, we removed the moisture from the kernel. This in turn does not allow for as big a kernel to form when it pops open. You should have found that the popcorn tasted the same, but likely was not as fluffy and tender as the popcorn that you did not put in the oven.

Patty Rooks, Senior Scientific Consultant PRAXIS, “Connecting Science To The Community”. Contact Praxis at praxis@praxismh.ca, http://www.praxismh.ca, Tweet or follow us @PraxisMedHat, or friend us on Facebook. NOTE our NEW address: #12 826 11 Street S. E., Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 1T7 Phone: 403-527-5365, email: praxis@praxismh.ca.

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