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How to Do the Dancing Popcorn Experiment

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Looking for a fun popcorn experiment? This dancing popcorn experiment is the perfect way to test the duration and effectiveness of different chemical reactions, and it takes just 3 ingredients to complete! This is one of our favorite quick STEM activities to try in the classroom or at home.

And who doesn’t love popcorn science?

Try the popcorn experiment and explore super fun chemical reactions in a highly visible way. Kids will love this STEM activity in a jar! #scienceexperiment #scienceforkids #stemed #stemactivities #thanksgivingactivities

The popcorn science experiment can be modified for almost any age group.

Easy Dancing Popcorn Chemistry Experiment

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.

Every popcorn experiment should include a hypothesis, a test, a variation, and data recording.

STEM extension worksheets

What NGSS Standards Does the Dancing Popcorn Experiment Meet?

This experiment can be used to meet the requirements for the following middle school and elementary school Next Generation Science Standards:

The perfect "wow" science experiment for kids! Learn about chemistry and chemical reactions in seconds with the dancing popcorn experiment!

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.

How Does the Dancing Popcorn Experiment Work?

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!

You may also like the complete list fall science experiments and fall STEM activities!

How Do You Make Dancing Corn?

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.

Dancing Corn Experiment STEM Extensions

When completing this experiment, test other chemical reactions to determine which produces the best results. You’ll get an awesome example of a chemical reaction this way!

Try using:

  • 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 Popcorn 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.”

Popcorn science is the best science! Experiment with popcorn and chemical reactions when you complete the dancing corn science experiment! #scienceexperiment #scienceforkids #stemed #stemactivities #thanksgivingactivities

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.

What you need to make popping corn kernels

You will need the following supplies for the dancing popcorn experiment:

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Dancing Popcorn Experiment Worksheet

Use the worksheet below to record the results of your corn experiment!

STEM extension worksheets

Simple Dancing Corn Experiment Directions

Follow along with these step-by-step directions for the dancing corn science experiment! Print out the instructions to use when you’re not at a computer or phone.

popcorn science fair project

How to Do the Dancing Corn Experiment

Active Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: easy

With the dancing popcorn experiment, you can teach chemical reactions in seconds! The ultimate "wow" science experiment for kids!

Materials

  • Clear jars or clear cups
  • Alka-seltzer tablets
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Oil

Tools

  • Stop watch or timer

Instructions

    1. Fill each jar half-way with your liquid of choice. Use water, oil, or vinegar.
    2. Cover the bottom of each jar with a small handful of popcorn kernels.
    3. Add the reactant to the jar and observe the carbon dioxide bubbles.
    4. You may need to stir the popcorn kernels up a bit to get them to start jumping.
    5. Time how long each set of kernels continues to bounce with the stop watch. Observe the popcorn kernels as they are lifted into the air.
    6. Watch the bubbles pop as they reach the surface of the jar.
    7. The longest-lasting jar has the longest reaction time.

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