Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.

Testing This Year’s Popcorn

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2013 Popcorn Harvest

2013 Popcorn Harvest

Just look at this beautiful yield of popcorn! Our fourth grade students worked hard to plant, harvest and process it! Now, if only we can get it to pop into light fluffy kernels like Orville Redenbacher or Pop Secret. What is their secret? Armed with some knowledge about what makes popcorn pop, 4th grade scientists thought that putting popcorn in a freezer or submerging it in boiling water might make it pop. This seemed to make sense considering that a tiny drop of water must explode inside each kernel to produce the crunchy light popcorn we all love. Water expands when it freezes, right? And however we heat up the kernels, will the  droplet explode? I hope that students can find time to  test out their hypotheses. There is a budding scientist in every one of them.

In the meantime, we tried popping our stored popcorn from 2012 and 2013. Then we tasted the results in a blind taste test alongside Orville’s and Pop Secret. Students had to describe each taste sample using three or more adjectives. Their teacher, Ms. Nancy, recorded the descriptions of each. Votes were tallied. Our own popcorn did not get the recognition it deserved. It didn’t pop well. Most of the kernels just did a slow burn. It turns out that popcorn kernels can be over dried, losing that critical droplet of moisture in each kernel. As the students read and recorded their findings, their teacher showcased a few good books about popcorn for future reading. One was a book entitled, “The Popcorn Book,” by Tomi DePaola. In this book advice is given for popcorn that won’t pop………simply add water and keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. Our next experiment is taking shape. We’ll keep you posted on results. We can’t wait to enjoy our own popcorn. Thank you, Tomi!

2013 popcorn harvest

2013 popcorn harvest

tasting and describing

tasting and describing

Popped popcorn

Popped popcorn

descriptions of 3 types popcorn

descriptions of 3 types popcorn

voting literally blind taste test

voting literally blind taste test

Tomi DePaola Popcorn Book

Tomi DePaola Popcorn Book

response sheet

response sheet

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Author: vermontschoolgarden

I have been an elementary teacher at the Westminster Center School for 30 years. For most of those years, I maintained a garden as part of my teaching curriculum resource. Now I am the Garden Coordinator for all of the Westminster Center School classrooms.

2 thoughts on “Testing This Year’s Popcorn

  1. Holy cow! That is a lot of popcorn, and a massive yield indeed! I bet the kids really enjoyed it — although I can’t imagine they were able to eat it all at once. Looking at those pictures of the projector and pull-down screen took me back to when I was a little kid. Very interesting article — thanks!

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