Popcorn: Chemical Changes (SOL 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3)

   Popcorn: Chemical Change

Teacher Name: Gemma Griffin

Grade Level: 2nd/3rd

Subject: Science/Math

Time Frame: 60 min

Concept: Scientific Method

Topic: Chemical Changes: Effects of heat, pressure and moisture on a chemical change.

Rationale: Students need concrete experiences with material that is both familiar and meaningful to them to better understand and grasp often difficult and abstract science concepts. Students also need experiences to practice the scientific method in order to become better problem solvers and develop higher-order critical thinking skills.


The student will use the scientific method to identify a problem, make predictions, identify procedures, gather data, and draw conclusions.

The student will be able to identify that moisture, heat, and pressure are all factors during a chemical change that contribute to popcorn popping successfully.

SOL’s: Science

2.1/3.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigations

2.3 – The student will investigate and understand processes involved with changes in matter.



The student will be able to make predictions and form conclusions about what makes popcorn pop by correctly completing 80% (4 out of 5 parts) of a written Popcorn lab sheet, using data gathered from the popcorn experiment.

Advanced Organizer:

Read to students the book “Popcorn” by Tommi de Paola

Discuss with the class their experiences with popcorn.


popcorn popper




Popcorn lab sheet

chart paper/markers (for extension activity)

Procedures & Activities:

1. Have students sit around the outside of a square made with masking tape.

2. Place the popcorn popper inside the very inner square on top of a clean sheet to catch the popcorn.

3. Have students sit around the very outside square.

4. Pose to students the problem “What makes popcorn pop?”

5. After recording student responses on the board, explain to students that they will be testing 3 different batches of kernals to see which pop the best. Have students discuss and decide upon which conditions will be employed to determine “best” popping.

Batch A will be kernals with pin holes poked into them. (These should pop the worst because moisture has been able to escape and they won’t pop because the pressure cannot build inside the punctured kernels.).

Batch B will be dry kernals

Batch C will be with oil

6. Have students in their Popcorn Log predict and rank the order in which the kernals will pop, 1 being the best, 3 being the worst.


Have students as a class talk about the results of the experiment, and why the results they got may have occurred.

Have students brainstorm other tests they could do on the popcorn which may change their results. (Like adding water to the kernals that had lost their moisture.)

Individually, have students complete their popcorn log:

Problem (What I want to know)

Hypothesis (What I thought would happen)

Procedure (What I did)

Results (What I observed happening)

Conclusion (My hypothesis was right/wrong, and why)

Extension w/ Math connection:

Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a paper towel and cup. Have each pair collect popcorn from the sheet, and place it into their cup. Instruct students that they will be able to eat the popcorn AFTER the activity.

Have each pair ESTIMATE how many pieces of popcorn they think they have, and record that number in their math log.

Then have each pair count the number of pieces of popcorn they actually have, and record that number.

Have students find the DIFFERENCE between their estimated number and the number of pieces of popcorn they actually counted.

Have students graph on the board under their team the number of popcorn they counted.

After all pairs have graphed their numbers on the board, have the class as a whole find differences in amounts of popcorn the different pairs had.


See Checklist for Popcorn Log



Problem (What do you want to find out?)




Hypothesis (What do you think is going to happen? Rank popcorn batches 1-3, with one being the best, three being the worst.)




Procedure (What did we do in the experiment?)











Results (What did you observe from the experiment?)









Conclusion (Was your hypothesis correct? incorrect? What conclusions can you draw about popcorn? Why did one batch pop better than the other(s)?)


Popcorn Lab Checklist

Student Name:


The student identifies the problem. _____/10


The student develops a hypothesis and makes predictions. _____/10


The student identifies procedures in the correct order. _____/10


The student records observations. _____/10


The student uses predictions, procedures, and observations

to draw a conclusion. _____/10


Total: _____/100


Lynchburg, VA 24503

Last modified Thursday November 24, 2011