Thursday, January 17, 2013

Popcorn and Heat

This is a matter investigation that I did with my 1st graders last semester. We needed to learn what happens when we apply heat to certain types of matter.

Before class started, I got an air popper, 1 popcorn kernel for each student, and a large piece of butcher paper that I divided into fourths.

I told students that I wanted to apply heat to these popcorn kernels and asked what they thought would happen if we did. Of course, students knew that the popcorn kernels would pop. So then I threw a curveball at them: what if we pop them from this air popper? How far do you think your popcorn will pop?

I gave every student a picture of a popcorn kernel and allowed them to color it. When they were finished, students taped their paper kernel down on the butcher paper in the section {sectioned off in feet} where they thought the most kernels would land. We graphed our predictions before I gave every student 1 kernel and allowed them to write their observations about it in their notebook. Then, one at a time, students came to add their kernel to the tray of my air popper. Finally, I fired that baby up!

Students were SO excited to watch popcorn fly out! Unfortunately for them, my air popper has an overhead arm that prevents it from flying in the air TOO high or TOO far. We talked about that arm's function {to help families easily catch and eat their popcorn without making a huge mess or having to chase after the kernels around their kitchen!} and what might happen if we had set the popcorn popper on its side or taken the arm off.

We graphed what really happened and compared the results to our predictions. This was another great opportunity to talk about sometimes our predictions aren't correct, and that's totally OK in science! 

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