Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Project Popcorn

We had JUST finished Zack's science fair project, when Elijah brought home the paperwork for his first science fair project. UGH. Ok, let me clarify. I didn't help with Zack's project, just constant prodding for nearly two months. And the JUST part was actually something like Friday to Monday. Zack turned his in on a Friday, Elijah brought home the paperwork for his on Monday. You've got to be kidding me! The good news is that Elijah's teacher gave us a list of ideas for age appropriate projects. Hallelujah! At least I was thrilled until Elijah started reading them to me...ALL FOUR PAGES. Holy Cow! We ruled out anything that had to do with plants or bugs. I don't have a green thumb, and we already have enough critters around here. We put a star next to anything that sounded remotely fun.

There were several popcorn ideas. Elijah decided on the one testing different brands of kernels to see which brand pops the best. With Matt's influence, we also decided to do this on the stove, the old fashioned way. YUM! We bought four types of popcorn: Orville Redenbacher's, Pop Secret, Jiffy Pop, and the generic brand. A friend added some Amish popcorn to the group and we figured that was plenty to keep us eating popcorn for many nights to come!

In order to have a control group, we chose a random brand, timed it and popped it 'til it quit popping, then popped the rest for the same period of time. We used 1/2 cup popcorn to 3 Tbsp. oil, turned on the heat and put the lid on. One batch a night was plenty for us to eat what we were testing! Then after we ate the popcorn we set aside the kernels that didn't pop to be counted.

We started eating popcorn all the time without keeping track for Elijah's project. Next thing I know, we're running out of popcorn! Elijah was burned out from taking notes on each batch of popcorn and so the days turned into weeks and next thing I know, it's the day before the project is due. Luckily I had purchased a project board. So...Sunday between conference we started popping popcorn to do round 2, which was to pop the kernels until they stopped on their own. I think the kids ate one batch, and the other three batches went to waste, but we kept all the kernels.

As we're matching the leftovers kernels round 1 with round 2, I discover that we haven't done round 2 for Pop Secret. AND there's no more Pop Secret in the pantry. Oh boy! Being Sunday and coming up on the next conference soon, I was determined to get this project finished. We decided to include Pop Secret without round 2 results, but a side note saying this was apparently a family favorite since it all got eaten, and was particularly fun since it pops larger kernels! In the end, the generic popcorn popped the most leaving very few kernels, with Pop Secret close behind. Elijah had hypothesized that Orville Redenbacher would pop the most kernels.

Elijah did nearly all the typing in order to post his information on the project board. I typed up the column "Other Observations" which wasn't a required part of the project anyway. We put the information on popcorn colored paper, and also taped the results of leftover kernels in baggies onto the board as well as samples of what Amish popcorn looks like popped and unpopped, and generic popcorn popped since it was the winner! The board was awesome! When we showed the board to Sara, she commented, "Wow! None of my science project boards ever looked that good." My response was, "You never let me help." "Yup," was her response. Crazy kid.

Each student in Elijah's class had to get up in front of the class to tell about their project. Elijah's took the longest at about 10 minutes. Apparently he did a very thorough job...with the help of his detail oriented mother! Sadly, we will never know if Pop Secret would leave fewer kernels unpopped than the generic brand in round 2. Makes me want to search the stores to buy another container just to see! That's the yummiest homework we've had around here in years!

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