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Microwave Madness

4.5 based on 14 ratings

Updated on Mar 29, 2010


Food Science and/or Physics

Grade Level

4 & up

Difficulty Level




Safety Issues

Adult supervision seriously recommended when using a microwave oven.

Material Availability

All necessary materials are readily available.

Project Time Frame

2-4 weeks


This project examines the effect of microwaving on various objects.

The goals of this project are:

  1. To study the effects of microwaving various materials
  2. To discover new or improved uses for a microwave oven.

  1. Computer with internet access
  2. Digital camera
  3. Typical office/craft/hobby supplies (paper, pens & poster-board, glue, etc.)
  4. Microwave-safe plate.
  5. Any or all of the following: CD, light bulb, bar of Ivory soap, candle, empty potato chip bag, latex balloon, grapes.
  6. Other items (try them at your own risk!)

All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay.


Sticking things in a microwave oven just to see what will happen is a much more popular pastime than most of us are willing to admit.This project requires you to nuke some of your favorite random objects, with astonishing results!

Research Questions
  1. How does a microwave oven work?
  2. Other than cooking, what are some practical applications of microwaving?
  3. What can we learn from the reactions of objects to microwave heating?
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research

Dielectric heating

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below and search terms listed above)
  2. Remove the turntable from the microwave.Also cover or remove the light
  3. Put an unwanted CD on a microwave-safe plate, and stand it up against a glass so you can easily see the iridescent face of it (opposite the label side)
  4. Run the microwave for 15 seconds and photograph the process and end result.
  5. Let CD cool down and then clear the plate.
  6. Place a light bulb, metal side down, in a glass half full of water.Put the glass on the plate in the middle of the microwave, and run it for 10-20 seconds.Take photos.
  7. Let bulb cool and clear the plate.
  8. Place a candle on the plate.Be SURE there’s no metal base on the bottom.Remove any metal attached to the candle.Light candle, and microwave for 10-20 seconds.Take photos.
  9. Let cool and clear the plate.
  10. Cut several grapes almost in half, leaving the halves connected by a bit of skin.Place grapes, flat side up, on the plate, and microwave for 10-20 seconds.Take photos.
  11. Let cool and clear the plate.
  12. Replace (or uncover) the light in the microwave.
  13. Break a bar of Ivory soap in half, place it on the plate, and microwave it for about 2 minutes.Photograph the process and the end result.
  14. Let cool and clear the plate.
  15. Place an empty potato chip bag on the plate and microwave for 10-20 seconds.Photograph process and end result.
  16. Let cool and clear the plate.
  17. Put ¼ cup of water in a latex balloon and tie the balloon.Microwave for 10-20 seconds.Do NOT let balloon touch sides of oven.Turn off microwave.Photograph the process.
  18. Write down all observations.
  19. Interpret your results in a detailed report.
  20. Include micro-waved creations in your science fair display.
  21. Show interesting photos taken throughout the course of the project.


Wiki topic:“Microwave Oven” (Microwave experiments at school)

Internet searches of your own choosing:Search for any of the terms listed above (or make up your own phrases to search), and click on any results that interest you.Have fun surfing the net!

Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials. Her recent writing credits include (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.