Popping Fresh

3.4 based on 85 ratings

Updated on May 06, 2014


Consumer Science, Chemistry


2nd – 4th grades

Difficulty of Project

Less than $20.00

Safety Issues

Adult supervision is strongly recommended with any cooking activity.

Material Availability

Easily purchased from a grocery store

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

About an hour to conduct the experiment; one day to prepare the science fair display

To determine which brand of microwave popcorn leaves the fewest unpopped kernels

  • 5 different brands of microwave popcorn
  • Microwave

Inside a kernel of corn is starch and a little bit of water. When the water inside a kernel of corn is heated, it becomes a gas. The gas grows and causes the starch to break out of its outside covering forming a piece of soft, white popcorn.

In this investigation, different brands of microwave popcorn are tested and compared.


kernel: the whole seed of corn


When the water inside a kernel of corn heats up, it becomes a gas and expands bursting out of its outer covering creating popcorn.

Research Questions
  • What causes microwave popcorn to pop?
  • Are some brands of microwave popcorn better than others?
  • Is there anyway to reduce the number of unpopped kernels?

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Follow the directions on the bag to prepare the microwave popcorn.
  3. When the popcorn is finished popping, place the popped kernels in a bowl. Count the unpopped kernels and record.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 – 3 for each of the different types of microwave popcorn. Record the results.


“Why Popcorn Pops and Other Grains Don’t” at Moment of Science at http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience

“Steam Explosions – the science of popcorn” at Kitchen Science Experiments at the www.thenakedscientists.com

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years â first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood â another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.

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