Popcorn Science Project

Millions of Americans settle down to popcorn as an evening snack. After all, a typical, undoctored cup of popped kernels has a mere 23 calories compared to 230 for corn chips. But, who stops at an undoctored cup or two, I ask you. That’s a question for tomorrow, as the lady from Gone with the Wind would say.

I’m going to talk about popcorn, and what makes it pop.

Inside a kernel of popcorn is a tiny amount of moisture that turns into steam when heated. Under the right conditions, says the scientist here, this kernel will explode into a fluffy, fragrant clump 30 to 40 times its original size.

Undoctored popcorn will help the undoctored soak up stomach acids There’s your hypothesis kids. You figure out how to test it while I pile on all kinds of other interesting facts, o.k.? You should know now.

Note: You can’t eat or drink anything else while ingesting the pure unadulterated popped corn. I’m not saying that you should actually eat the popcorn during this experiment, but if you did, it would draw the fluids out of your system sort of like a sponge.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, popcorn is 77 percent carbohydrate, 12 percent protein, 5 percent fat and 2 percent minerals that contain the B-complex vitamins—niacin, thiamine and riboflavin, as well as vitamin E.

If your popcorn is old or dry, put the corn in a cheesecloth bag, submerge it in water, then hang it in a cool place for 24 hours before popping it. This will increase the water content in the kernel enough so that you’ll get a good return off the kernels, instead of brown, stinky burned ones if you don’t follow this procedure.

To persons shopping in U.S.A supermarkets, generally, it may come as a surprise to learn that not only is there yellow corn, but there is also black corn, pink corn, red corn, white corn and at least 15 varieties of popping corn. You can get seed for the following breeds on the internet: Japanese Hulless, Lady Finger; South American Yellow Strawberry; Wisconsin White Birch; Savanna Gold; Starshell Red; High Mountain Midnight; Red River Valley; Autumn Blaze; Orchard Blossom; Blue Heron; Baby White Rice; Baby Yellow; Black Hills; and Sunset Fire.

Even more varieties are being made by artificial hybridization. To keep the seed precise and determinable, bags are put over the ears of corn so that wind-borne pollen will not fertilize it. Once a good breed is found, pollen from the same plant is used to fertilize it. These pure strains can then be manipulated however the geneticist or farmer wishes. Seeds from two pure strains usually produce high yields. However, if purchased this pure bred seed is expensive, and must be bought for each planting.

We’ve discussed popcorn. There are even more varieties of eating corn. Then there’s the cow corn. If ever, as a youngster, you feel inclined to sneak up into a corn patch to steal some corn, make sure that it’s people corn, not cow corn. I can tell by the stalks. So can the farmers, who probably hope that you can’t…

How’s the science project coming? What acid are you using?

And yes, it is fun to dig a pit, build a fire and roast some corn on a summer night. You should try it some time. Buy the corn.