Does Brand Name Popcorn Pop Better

Carol Sayles

Content Area Objectives Addressed:

Math- graphing, measuring of volume 


Technology Objectives Addressed:




Activity Description


The first week of school I always like to make graphs of students’ experiences.  This allows for small group interaction, co-operation, planning, organization, delegation of tasks, and collection of data.  I like to observe the students’ personality, maturity, and ability during this process. 

The graphs the class made were:

       Favorite Sandwich           How Many People in My Family

       Favorite Breakfast            How Many Times I Have Moved?

       Favorite Cookie               Do you know how to ride a bike?

       Favorite Drink                 Do you know how to swim?

       Favorite Number             How We Got To School on the First Day                

       Favorite Dessert              How Many Letters in Your Name

       Favorite Wild Animal      Favorite Day of the Week

       Favorite Pet                       Have You Had Chicken Pox?

       Eye Color                         Have You Been Stung by a Bee?

       Favorite Apple                How Many Pets Do Your Have?

       Favorite Ice Cream          Birthday Month

       Favorite Color                 How Many Kids at Your House?



When I began thinking of this lesson, I decided to us the spreadsheet integration. I wanted to have a graphing lesson.  The software I used was “Graph Club”. I am a “chicken”, and like to feel confident when using software before a filming.   I introduced the software to the students, by making the graph, Our Favorite Apple. In small groups, the students were instructed to duplicate the same graph that I had made, and then they were able to “play” on the software.  I must confess my ignoran ce; I learned more about the software as the children “played”.  We learn so much from our students.  I assessed students’ learning by assigning one of the charts that we had made at the beginning of the year.  This lesson was hugely successful. The students were WOWED by their graphs.



Next, let’s go on to the second part of the lesson.  I wanted to collect data in the form of volume. I decided to use 3 different brands of popcorn to measure the differences of volume of the three popcorns.  The popcorn that I used were:

            Orville             $3.29

              Jolly Time      $1.39

            Store Brand    $0.79

The questions I wanted to know were: Do different brands affect volume?

                                                                     Do different brand affect taste?

                                                               How many kernels pop?


I expected the Orville to pop bigger and better, and to taste better. But I was disappointed because all three brands popped about the same.  All three brands tasted about the same.


I did quite a bit a “adjusting” as the lesson progressed.  I planned to measure the unpopped kernels by volume, but it worked out better to count the kernels instead.

We counted to popped popcorn only to have more “pieces” than we started out with kernels. The popcorn popped at different rates.  When waiting for the other brands to finish popping, the first container was burning. I didn’t put enough oil in the first group, so the amount of kernels popped was decreased.  These are all factors that an adult looks at when conducting an experiment, but the kids could care less.  Just as long as the popcorn popped they were satisfied the experiment was working.


My “need” was to have the experiment work.  So the following week, we conducted an additional experiment. I use a hot plate and popped the kernels in a pot.  We counted out 300 kernels for each batch.  Only to find out that our previous week’s experiment was about the same.  The kernels popped about the same amount, and the taste was about the same for all three brands.  I did find that the Orville popped about 2 minutes faster than the other two brands.


The following week we put the created the graphs on the computer. This was done in small groups rotating during activity time.


How did you monitor student progress?

Teacher Observation and completed graphs.


Was there a template or an example that students were expected to follow?

I listed the steps on the white board that the student was to use as they entered their data about the popcorn.


How much time did you dedicate to this project?


            First week creating charts- 5 days 30-40 minutes  -small groups of 4-5 students

            Learning the program 1 day  -60 minutes- small groups at centers rotating at computers.

             Collecting the data -1 day- 60 minutes   medium sized groups at centers rotating.

Assessing knowledge- 1 day- 60 minutes- small groups at centers rotating at computers.

Presentation of the project- 30-40 minutes whole class.

How was the final product presented?

The individual students shared their graphs with the class and, explained the information and their conclusions and observations.


The groups of students shared their graphs of popcorn that popped with the class, and explained their conclusions.


Who was the audience for the final product?

 The classroom students were the audience.

Learning Issues

What prior knowledge was required on the part of the students in order for them to be successful in this project? (Include curriculum and technology knowledge)

Student s needed to:

 Collect data

 Give information about a topic

 Organize information

 Work in small groups

 Make conclusions about information on graphs


Learn the software Graph Club

Conduct experiment

Control data so that it is equal  “fair”

Input data that was collected

Draw conclusions about data


Resource Management

            What was the student to computer ratio?

There are five children to per computer.


How did you schedule your students’ computer time?

There are small groups rotating to the computers during activity time.


What was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by students?

In the classroom.


How would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service teachers.)


Ask your school’s computer person how to obtain additional computers in your room. Then listen and do.   Also ask your district’s computer person how to obtain computers.


Rate the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they needed  --high, medium, low


I have five computers in my classroom.  So students have a high access.


Rate the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically for computer and other technology use –high, medium, low

For the learning of the program, I would say that the level of supervision was high. I had five students learning the program during a small group activity time. 


For the entering the popcorn data into the program, I would rate that as low because I had a competent student monitor other students as they entered the data into the computer.


What hardware was required for your project?



What software was required for your project?

Graph Club   

Anything else?

Yes, I used a literature connection.  I read Tomie de Paolo’s book The Popcorn Book.  This book tells the story of popcorn.  It also explains the why of how popcorn pops.



What kind of assessment did you use for this project? (Include a copy if you can.)

Participation, teacher observation, and completed graphs.



What categories did you assess? (I.e.:  content, screen design, depth/breadth, etc.)

I assessed each student’s completed graph.



How does the product that you submitted compare with other students’ products for this same project?

I liked the software of Graph Club because it gives each student an exceptional visual representation of the data collected.  Therefore, each student has an excellent product in the form of a graph.



            What did you like best about this project?

Student involvement was extremely high.  The students were excited about the first graph that they completed.


The students were excited about the collecting the data of popping corn.



            What did the students like best about this project?

Eating the popcorn


            Rank the level of student involvement in this project –high, medium, low

Super high


            Rank the level of student interest in this project –high, medium, low

Super high


            Would you teach this lesson again?