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  • Sara Thompson

Make Popcorn Kernels Dance!

By Sara Thompson

"Bubbles surrounding popcorn kernels" by Green Kid Crafts

Special to the Enterprise


In this home experiment, you will be adding a few simple ingredients to make popcorn kernels move and dance.


Supplies: tray, clear cup or jar, popcorn kernels, water, ½ C. vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon of baking soda


Instructions: This experiment can be messy, so a tray can help contain the mess and make for easy cleanup. Cover the bottom of your cup or jar with un-popped, popcorn kernels, add water to cover the kernels. Then add the ½ cup of vinegar, you want to cup to be around half full. Let the solution settle for a minute, observe if anything is happening yet. Next, you will add the 1 Tablespoon of baking soda all at once to the cup. There will be an immediate reaction, which might spill over the top of the glass onto the tray. Watch what happens to the popcorn kernels!


When you add baking soda to vinegar, they generate carbon dioxide gas. The gas will attach to the kernels and cause them to rise. As the gas bubbles pop at the surface, the kernels will sink back down. This up and down motion makes the popcorn kernels appear to be dancing in the liquid contained in the glass. Even though these are common household items, eating is not recommended after the experiment.


Other variations: As fun as this experiment is, there are other household materials you can try too. Test it again with lemon juice, cooking oil, just water, citric acid, alka-seltzer, baking powder, etc. Make predictions, check results, and make it a fun filled day of science!


Explorit's coming events:

• You are cordially invited to Teddy Bear Tea at Explorit. Saturday, Dec. 9 at 1pm. Bring your favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal and enjoy a fun-filled time of tea, treats, and bear-themed activities. Registration is $10 and can be reserved from our homepage at https://www.explorit.org/. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. It will be a ‘beary’ good time!


• Explorit is open Fridays from 1-4pm and Saturday and Sundays from 10am-2pm. The current exhibit is “Our WILD World”. Admission is $5 per person, free for Explorit Members and those aged 2 and under.


• Give the Gift of Science this holiday season. A Membership to Explorit grants the recipient free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer camps and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. To purchase or for more information visit https://www.explorit.org/membership or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.


• Winter Break Extended Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27-28, open from 10am-2pm; Friday, Dec. 29, open from 10am-4pm. Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 2-4, open from 10am-2pm; Friday, Jan. 5, open from 10am-4pm.


• Registration now open for Explorit Winter Camp, January 3-5, 2024. Grades K-2 from 9am-12pm, grades 3-5 from 1-4pm. Registration fee is $115 for Members/$130 for Non-Members.



• Think of Explorit for you end of year giving and help us continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow: https://www.explorit.org/donate


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