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Popcorn Popping Science

In this family STEM activity, students experiment to find out the science secrets behind popcorn.

Popcorn Popping Science / Weekly family science activity

What Makes Popcorn Pop?

Have you ever wondered what makes popcorn pop? Not all varieties of corn pop. Popcorn has a specific structure and a specific composition that allows us to turn the hard kernels into a tasty snack. In this week's family science activity, families head to the kitchen for a firsthand look at popcorn popping science.

Part of what makes popcorn pop is the water that is trapped inside the kernel. When the popcorn is heated to a certain temperature, the water turns to steam, and the shell of the kernel bursts. Do all varieties of popcorn have the same amount of water? Do all brands of popcorn pop equally well? How come some popcorn is big and fluffy, and some has smaller puffs? Kids can put these questions, and others, to the test by popping the same kind of popcorn following different sets of directions. What kinds of differences will you be able to observe, count, measure, and taste? Get ready to find out!

The following Science Buddies activity on the Scientific American website has all the information you need to do this science activity with your students at home: Explore the "POP" in popcorn.

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