HONOURABLE MENTION

Which Type of Popcorn Pops the Most Kernels

I will be testing which type of popcorn brand pops the least amount of unpopped kernels
Simran Johal
Grade 5

Hypothesis

If microwavable popcorn is made from 3 different brands (Orville Redenbacher, Organics, and ACT II) and is put in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds then ACT II will produce the least amount of unpopped kernels. Based on my research Orville Redenbacher only popped 80% of the kernels in the bag therefore I think ACT II will produce the least amount of unpopped kernels.

Research

The focus of this experiment will be to see which type of popcorn brand pops the least amount of unpopped kernels. Some previous work on this topic has shown that many popcorn brands have a lot of kernels in the bag that don’t pop. There are about 460 kernels in a regular popcorn bag, but about 50-100 don’t pop. Orville Redenbacher popcorn had an average of 80% of popcorn kernels popped when put in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. The reason why popcorn pops is because of the water trapped inside the kernel. If the kernel is heated at the right temperature, then the water will turn into steam. Due to the hard shell, it makes it hard for liquid and air to pass through, the steam has nowhere to go, thus resulting in a buildup of pressure in the kernel. Once the pressure is high enough and the temperature reaches about 180 degrees celsius, the kernel bursts, and the popcorn is turned inside out. The popcorn is whitish-yellow not because of the butter or flavour put into it, but because of the starch inside the kernel. At higher temperatures, the starch gelatinizes and then expands with a burst of the kernel. Once it cools down, the flake that we know as popcorn is formed. Microwaves give off a high-power electromagnetic wave into your food. It’s the same type of wave that is in wifi connections, but it’s at a much higher power level. The microwave is shielded so that the waves don’t leave the microwave. These waves consist of a rapidly changing electric and magnetic field. Most materials will absorb some energy from the radio waves, but anything with water in it will absorb a lot of energy because water is a polar molecule, so the molecules are easily pushed around by the swiftly changing electric field. Heat is just a random motion and vibration of atoms in something, so when it is pushed around by the wave it heats up. To best understand this experiment some key concepts and definitions to know include, Physics: The part of science connected with the nature of matter and energy. This subject includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, magnetism, and the structure of atoms. Gases: A state of matter which allows molecules to move freely without being in a fixed shape nor fixed volume. A gas substance cannot be liquified by just the use of pressure alone. Plant science: The science behind plants. Plant science is also called botany, plant biology, or phytology. It is the science of plant life and biology.  Lastly, food science: The basic science behind the food. Food science starts with agricultural science and nutrition, then leads through the scientific aspects of food safety and processing, notifying the making of food technology.

 

Variables

Manipulated Variable: The brand of popcorn. (Orville Redenbacher, Organics, and ACT II.)

Responding Variable: The number of unpopped kernels.

Controlled Variable: The time that I keep the bag of popcorn in the microwave and the microwave. Also, the person that is counting stays the same. 

Uncontrolled Variable: The humidity of the air and the air pressure.

Procedure

First, take one ACT II microwavable popcorn bag out of the plastic covering and put the bag in the microwave on the side that says, “this side up,” for 1 minute 30 seconds. Next, take out the popcorn bag from the microwave once it’s done, take the popcorn out of the popcorn bag, and put it in a separate bowl. Then, close the microwave. After that, eat the popcorn, but make sure you don’t eat any kernels! Finally, count the number of unpopped kernels and record the amount in your logbook. (Repeat this experiment with Organics and Orville Redenbacher popcorn. Also, do this experiment 3 times with each brand of popcorn.)

Observations

Analysis

 

Conclusion

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate which type of microwavable popcorn brand (Orville Redenbacher, Organics, and ACT II) produces the least amount of unpopped kernels when put in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. To conduct this experiment the following steps were taken. First, take 1 Orville Redenbacher microwavable popcorn bag out of the plastic wrapping. Then, put the popcorn bag in the microwave on the side that says “this side up” for 1 minute 30 seconds. Next, once it is done take the popcorn out and put it in a separate bowl. After that, close the microwave. Then, eat all of the popcorn, but don’t eat any of the kernels. Lastly, count the number of unpopped kernels and record the amount in your logbook.  It was hypothesized that the results of this experiment would show that ACT II would produce the least amount of unpopped kernels. This proved to be wrong because ACT II didn’t produce the least amount of unpopped kernels, Orville Redenbacher did. The results of this experiment showed that ACT II did not produce the least amount of unpopped kernels. As the result, my hypothesis was wrong meaning that Orville Redenbacher produced the least amount of unpopped kernels. This happened because Orville Redenbacher popped more kernels than ACT II did. Orville Redenbacher popped more kernels than ACT II because based on my research food absorbs heat from the microwave meaning that Orville Redenbacher absorbed more heat from the microwave than ACT II did. This conclusion can be supported by the following research. The microwave oven releases a quickly changing electric field. This wave is very powerful. The food/ drink in the microwave will absorb the energy, thus heating up. This shows that Orville Redenbacher absorbed more heat than ACT II and Organics did, thus Orville Redenbacher produced the least amount of unpopped kernels. 

 

Application

Someone would want to apply my project because if someone has friends over and they want to watch a movie they would want to make popcorn. So, if they make Organics popcorn they would get less popcorn, but if they make Orville Redenbacher popcorn then they would get more popcorn less burnt kernels. They would need this experiment to see which popcorn they need to make so they get more popcorn and fewer unpopped kernels.

Sources Of Error

This science fair project could have been improved by doing the project in 1 day because the project was done in 3 days as I was unable to do it in 1 day. This affected my experiment because the air pressure and humidity changed during the 3 days which affected how many kernels were popped. This is also why in trial 3 the results were a lot more different than the results in trial 1. Variables like the time that I kept the popcorn could have also been better controlled because once the popcorn was done I was getting the bowl which led to about an extra 15-30 seconds of the popcorn staying in the microwave. This could have let the popcorn absorb extra heat which affected my results. Other errors that could have been eliminated or reduced include having a larger sample size because there could have been variations that were not represented in the experiment.

Citations

 

Acknowledgement

I am acknowledging my teacher Mr. Daniel VanDrunen for helping me during my science fair. He helped me figure out what to do and he looked over my work. Thank you, Mr.VanDrunen