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Dancing Corn Kernels Experiment

Traditionally corn is enjoyed in many different forms around Thanksgiving time. Whether it’s baked in a cornbread, plucked from the cob, and heated in oil until it pops or still fresh on the cob, this versatile food is enjoyed by many during Thanksgiving time. This fun activity will intrigue young ones about how corn grows, how it reacts to different liquids, and the many different ways we can eat it.

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Activity PDF

Leave children in awe with dancing corn kernels!

Look no further than your kitchen pantry for this fun and easy science experiment. This activity is super versatile and allows children to explore different liquids and how they react with one another. You can get as technical as you want with this activity and explore how we weigh things, the density of the popcorn, and the gas carbon dioxide released from the baking soda and vinegar. Children will have their own creative answers for why the kernels dance too!

🌿Full of beans: Try this experiment with different foods - beans, candies, nuts, who knows what will happen!

❗ New word alert! Introduce the word “hypothesis” to children and challenge them to use it in a sentence. They’ll soak up any new words quickly!

🌽 Did you know? The average corn cob has over 800 kernels of corn!

Materials

For this activity you will need:

Corn kernels (not from a microwave popcorn bag)

Clear glass jars (mason jar)

Club soda

Baking soda

Vinegar

Water

Oil

Salt

Marker

Sticky note to label each liquid/solution

Learning Outcomes

Domain

Cognitive

Skills

Reflecting and Reaching Conclusions

Indicators:

Describing similarities and cause and effect in recurring events

Instructions

Step 1:

Start by setting up your experiment station. You should have one jar for each liquid/solution you plan on using. Make sure to label each jar to easily see what liquid will go in each jar.

Step 2:

Next, put your liquids/solutions into each jar. It’s up to you to determine how much of each liquid/solution you want. Play around with it!

Step 3:

Ask out loud, 'what will happen to the kernels when we add them to the liquids?' Create a hypothesis and write it down!

Step 4:

Once all your jars are full, put a handful of corn kernels into each one and watch what happens!

Step 5:

Reflect back on your hypothesis - were you right?

⬆️ For older preschoolers:  This is a great opportunity to explore the concept of the scientific method. Create a hypothesis, variables, analyze, and reflect. By practicing the scientific method you’ll introduce new concepts and words to older preschoolers.

⬇️ For younger toddlers: The concept of being able to predict what will happen might be a bit too advanced for younger ones but they’ll still enjoy the outcome of what happens to the kernels. Get them to explore their cause and effect skills with this one.

Playful Questions

What would happen if we added more vinegar than baking soda to one jar?

How can we add equal parts of baking soda and vinegar to one jar?

What would happen if we added the kernels first to the jar and then the liquids?

What other liquids could we try this with?

What would happen if we added food coloring to our club soda mixture?