What makes popcorn pop! How does popcorn work?

What makes popcorn pop! How does popcorn work? If you love popcorn, with a large soda while watching a movie. We have a treat for you! Have you ever wondered how popcorn works? Check out the video below to learn how you can create your own cool “What makes popcorn pop!“ science experiment.

What makes popcorn pop!

How does popcorn work?

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So back to the question of the day. Have you ever wondered? What makes popcorn pop! How do those hard little kernels of corn pop into soft popcorn puffs? Well as you saw in the video above (we hope), we have a cool science experiment you can do as a school science experiment or as a fun home project. But remember to get permission first from your parents. Don’t forget to make this a fun family project. After all, after the project you can eat the popcorn as you watch a movie with your family.

How does popcorn work?

Safety is always first. We do not want any lawsuits… I mean injuries. So please be safe.

Popcorn – Why does it pop?
The short story is that a typical un-popped kernel contains a small amount of water in its center. Did you know that? How interesting is that.

Popcorn pops when the water in the center of the kernel is quickly heated, and the water inside the kernel turns into steam. The steam pushes against the inside of the kernel as it gets hotter. Eventually the pressure from the steam builds and over comes the strength of the kernel and pops it.

The explosion causes the soft tissue inside the kernel to puff outwards, giving a popped kernel its characteristic appearance. Now that you know this. How can we turn this into a school science experiment?

Yeah, who does not want to get a good grade in science and become the envy of all the school?

Popcorn Science Experiment

Let us assume for now that we are not sure that this is what happens and are merely hypothesizing. Hypothesizing is just a cool scientific way of saying “make a really good educated guess.”

How could we prove our hypothesis? By experimentation of course! The fun part of any popcorn science project is the control.

The Control
First things first: perform a control. Get some popcorn and pop some of it. This way you can get a rough estimate of how much of it popped and how much did not.

Now, what if you slowly warm up the popcorn in an oven for a couple of hours and then try to pop it? Does it still pop? As you might have guessed. It does not. But why?

The answer lies within that little bit of water inside each kernel. When the kernel was heated at the relatively low temperature, the water inside dried up. Trying to pop these dried out kernels will be a waste of time. Without the water at the center of the kernels, popping will not be possible.

What other experiments could we run to further convince others of your hypothesis?

Other possible Experimentation’s

Here are some “experimentation” ideas you can try.

  • Soak the kernels for a few hours, and then try to pop them. Will the extra water help or hinder the kernels in popping?
  • Will any kernels pop if they are heated below the temperature at which water turns to steam? Water turns to steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit – if you are wondering.
  • What if you pierce the hard shell of the kernels? How would that affect their ability to burst from the steam pressure?
  • On the other hand, does freezing the kernels have an effect?

Wow! Who knew you could have so much fun with a “What makes popcorn pop!” popcorn experiment. Just remember to ask your parents for permission.


Happy, crazy loving father of two who believes the world is a bit off kilter. I spend a lot of time trying to teach my children to be better than me - I hope they appreciate it.

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