Popcorn is more than a movie snack. Learn more about the science behind the kernel by putting popcorn at the centre of a science project. There are many approaches to take and experiments to conduct on popcorn. Choose yours according to the guidelines of the class and your area of interest.
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Compare the different brands of popcorn across several different factors: size of popped kernel and popped-to-unpopped ratio. Test a variety of microwave popcorn brands, popping each according to the package directions. Find brands of popcorn with 85.1gr. popcorn bags for an even comparison. Pour each bag into a separate bowl and compare the volume of the popped kernels for each. For instance, did one brand pop 12 cups from 85.1gr. of kernels but another brand only popped 10 cups of popcorn? Measure the size of 10 popped kernels of each brand and take the average to determine the size of the average popped kernel. Weigh out the number of unpopped kernels, called Old Maids, left at the bottom of the bag, and compare that to the weight of the popped kernels for the unpopped-to-popped ratio. Based on your findings, which brand was the best for not leaving behind unpopped kernels? Which was better for popping up the largest kernels?
Conduct a blind taste test with your family of popcorn popped using different methods. Test microwave popcorn, air-popped popcorn and hob popcorn. See if your family members can guess the correct cooking method based on the taste and texture of the popcorn. Did using oil or butter in the cooking process change the flavour or texture of the popcorn? How did the air-popped popcorn compare to the hob popcorn made with oil?
Research why popcorn pops. Create a step-by-step storyboard with each panel showing what happens to the inside of a single popcorn kernel during popping. Show how this applies to the different popcorn popping methods of an air-popper, hob popping and the microwave. Do you think there is a best way to pop popcorn? Give evidence for your choice based on your research.
Determine the best storage method for popcorn to see if one produces better results than another. Place three bags of microwave popcorn from the same box into three different conditions: the freezer, refrigerator and pantry. Leave them in place for one week. Pop the three bags of popcorn according to the package directions and determine which one left the fewest unpopped kernels behind. This will suggest those popcorn kernels dried the least during storage.
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