How Should You Store Popcorn?

4.0 based on 27 ratings

Updated on Feb 06, 2012

Grade Level: 7th – 9th; Type: Chemistry


This science project explores the best way to store popcorn kernels. It examines the impact of moisture and temperature on unpopped kernels.

Research Questions:

  • Does storing temperature affect how well popcorn pops?
  • Do moisture levels affect how well popcorn pops?
  • What is the best way to store popcorn kernels?

When you make popcorn, sometimes it comes out soggy, or most of the kernels don’t pop. Could there be something wrong with the way the kernels were stored? You can find out the best way to keep popcorn fresh by doing this experiment.


  • Four cups of popcorn kernels
  • Measuring cup
  • Four jars
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Refrigerator
  • Water
  • Pot or hot air popper
  • Ingredients for popping popcorn
  • Ruler

Experimental Procedure

  1. Pour a cup of popcorn kernels into each of the four jars.
  2. Label the first jar “Sample A” and screw the lid on tightly. Place this jar on the counter.
  3. Label the second jar “Sample B” and screw the lid on tightly. Place this jar in the refrigerator.
  4. Label the third jar “Sample C.” Add 1/8 cup of water to the kernels in this jar, and then screw the top on tightly. Place this jar on the counter.
  5. Label the fourth jar “Sample D.” Leave the lid off this jar, and place it on the counter.
  6. Leave the jars where they are for seven days.
  7. Pop each jar of kernels, one after the other, according to the instructions on the kernel bag. Make sure to keep any other possible variables constant. For example, pop the kernels for the same amount of time, using the same level of heat, and the same amount of oil or butter. Make sure that the pot or hot air popper has cooled off completely, and then heated up for the same amount of time, between poppings.
  8. Use the ruler to measure ten popped pieces from each jar of popcorn, and record the average length of these pieces of popcorn.
  9. Pour all of the popped kernels from each batch, one batch at a time, into a measuring cup. Record the volume of the popped kernels.
  10. Examine the texture of each batch of popcorn, and record your data.
  11. Analyze your data. Which batch had the highest volume of popped kernels? Which batch seemed to have the best texture? The largest kernels?

Terms/Concepts: What makes popcorn kernels pop?; What are popcorn kernels made from?; How are popcorn kernels supposed to be stored?


First Place Science Fair Projects for Inquisitive Kids, by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Pp. 120-121.

Keren Perles has worked as an educational writer, editor, teacher, and tutor of all ages. Her experience spans the subject areas, from science and math, to English and the Hebrew language.

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