Looking for a fun popcorn science fair project? This dancing popcorn experiment is the perfect experiment to test the duration and effectiveness of different chemical reactions. And who doesn’t love popcorn science?
The popcorn science experiment can be modified for almost any age group. For preschoolers and early elementary students, you can use this activity as a fun Thanksgiving science experiment or simple science demonstration for chemical reactions.
Older children in elementary school and middle school can complete the full experiment with variations, testing, and a hypothesis.
Don’t forget that every popcorn experiment should include a hypothesis, a test, a variation, and the recording of data.
WHAT NGSS SCIENCE STANDARDS DOES THE POPCORN EXPERIMENT MEET?
This experiment can be used to meet the requirements for the following middle school and elementary school Next Generation Science Standards:
MS-PS1-2 Matter and its Interactions
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
2-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions
Analyze data from tests of an object or tool to determine if it works as intended.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE POPCORN SCIENCE PROJECT
This science experiment works through a chemical reaction. The two chemicals react when mixed and form carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. The gas forms bubbles that collect around the popcorn kernels.
The gas bubbles lift the kernels up to the surface of the liquid, and when the gas is released, the kernels fall back down into the jar, making it look like the kernels are dancing or jumping!
CONDUCTING YOUR OWN POPCORN SCIENCE PROJECT
This popcorn science project is a fun way to demonstrate chemical reactions and to determine which substances create the longest-lasting reaction. You’ll want to have several jars on hand to test each mixture, and a timer to determine how long the kernels in each jar bounce before settling to the bottom of the jar. Repeat the experiment multiple times for the most accurate results.
Watch this experiment in action with the video below. It’s fascinating to watch the kernels jump up and down in the water!
Use our science experiment worksheet when completing this activity to make recording your data even easier!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR THE POPCORN EXPERIMENT
You will need the following supplies for this experiment:
ball mason 12 Jar with Lid-Regular MouOrville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow, 8 lbMember’s Mark Distilled White Vinegar Jug, 1 galArm & Hammer Baking Soda, 5 LbsCrisco Pure Vegetable Oil, 32 Fl OzSCS Alka-Seltzer Original Antacid and Analgesic – 116 ct.The Mason Jar Scientist: 30 Jarring STEAM-Based ProjectsMARATHON Adanac 3000 Digital Sports Stopwatch Timer with Extra Large Display and Buttons, Water Resistant- Yellow
DOING THE POPCORN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT
Fill each jar half-way with your liquid of choice. Use water, oil, or vinegar.
Cover the bottom of each jar with a layer of popcorn kernels.
Add the reactant to the jar and observe.
You may need to stir the popcorn kernels up a bit to get them to start jumping.
Time how long each set of kernels continues to bounce.
The longest-lasting jar has the longest reaction time.
POPCORN EXPERIMENT VARIATIONS
When completing this experiment, test other chemical reactions to determine which produces the best results.
- Alka-Seltzer tablets and water
- Baking soda and vinegar
- Lemon juice and baking soda
- Citric acid and baking soda
- Alka-seltzer tablets and oil
DANCING CORN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT RESULTS
We found that the dancing popcorn experiment worked best when we used baking soda and vinegar. Putting the baking soda into the vinegar slowly helped reduce the reaction time, enabling more of the popcorn kernels to “dance.”
Stirring the kernels with a fork helped them to bounce up and down in the water. Our kernels bobbed in the vinegar solution for over a minute before finally falling to the bottom of the jar.