Professor popcorn

This happy science experiment is bursting with fun and flavor.

You'll Need

  • Popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup measuring cup
  • popcorn maker or large pot and cooking oil
  • shallow bowl
  • paper towels


30 minutes

Learning Stages

Did you know that the first known use of corn was making popcorn? Help your child follow these steps to conduct a science experiment with popcorn:

  1. Measure 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels and make popcorn using your popcorn maker or with a pot on the stove top.
  2. Once the popping has stopped, count how many kernels did not pop.
  3. Measure another 1/4 cup of kernels. Soak these kernels in a shallow bowl of water for about five minutes.
  4. Drain the water and pat the kernels dry with paper towels.
  5. Now pop this batch of popcorn. Count how many kernels remain this time.
  6. Compare the number of kernels that did not pop from the first batch with the unpopped ones from the second. Ask your child to think of explanations for the difference.

Because the second batch of kernels was soaked in water, the water inside boils from the heat and makes the kernels explode. The kernels that didn’t pop did not have enough water inside them to boil. Soaking the kernels beforehand ensured that the kernels had enough water.

Popcorn Resources

The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola (Holiday House, 1984)