Science project

Examining Mass And Density Of Popped And Unpopped Popcorn

Research Questions: 

  • How is mass determined?
  • How is density determined?

Mass is the amount of matter in an object. Oftentimes you can find the mass of any object using a pan balance and can be measured in grams or kilograms. Density is the amount of mass a substance has in a certain volume. An easy way to test the density of objects is by placing them in water. If an object floats, its density is less than the density of water. If the object sinks, its density is greater than the density of water.


  • 1 cup of unpopped popcorn
  • 1 cup of popped popcorn (Make sure the cups used for both the unpopped and popped popcorn are identical.)
  • Large clear plastic cup half full of water
  • Pan balance

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Place a cup of unpopped popcorn on one of the pans of the pan balance. Use the weights to determine the mass of the unpopped popcorn.
  2. Remove the cup of unpopped popcorn and repeat step 1 for the cup of popped popcorn. How do the masses compare?
  3. Pour some unpopped popcorn into the cup of water. Pour about the same amount of popped popcorn into the water. What happened? What can you determine about the density of the unpopped and popped popcorn? 

Terms/Concepts: Matter; Mass; Density; Volume


Science Turns Minds On. (1995) New York: McGraw-Hill

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