06 March 2009

At the movies…..

At the movies, or so I am told, you just ‘gotta’ munch on popcorn.  Well, we would be sort of going to the movies this afternoon (to compare and contrast our book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes with the film version, The Iron Giant).  So, we had better find out some more about popcorn.

We had some so-called ‘popping corn’.  A bag of kernels from a maize plant.


What next?  Can you eat it like it is?

Well, as Thomas happily confirmed, yes, you can.  But it is rather hard and not particularly nice.  And not at all like the popcorn we know and love.  How do we turn small, hard, shiny, round, yellow kernels…..


into white, fluffy, cloud-shaped popcorn?

Well you…..

‘put in in the microwave’

‘fry it’

‘cook it’

‘use the oven’

And yes, you can do all of these.  But what do all of these have in common? 

‘Heat!’  Thank you Amelia.

So you have to heat the popcorn.  What does heating do?

Time for a little research perhaps.

We found out first of all that popcorn is best stored in an airtight jar in the fridge.  That this was to keep in the moisture.  And another word for moisture?  Yes, water.

So there is water inside.  And what happens when you heat water?  No, not smoke!  You get steam.

So imagine what happens inside a corn kernel when the moisture or water inside turns to steam…..


An explosion.  As Shahrbano so succinctly put it, ‘Popcorn explodes when it gets hot and the water inside needs to get out.

Thomas told us, ‘The popcorn will pop because the steam inside pops it and turns it inside out.’


And so, let us see if we can explode some popping corn.  First tip some seeds into our popcorn maker.


Turn it on so that hot air blows out of the vents and onto the kernels.  As the hot air blows, so the kernels spin round and round.


As the moisture inside gets hot enough to turn into steam, the kernels begin to pop.


Gradually the popcorn machine fills with white fluffy inside-out popcorn, which it then ‘throws out’…..


into the bowl below.


White, fluffy, cloud-shaped, inside-out popcorn; perfect for an afternoon at the movies.

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