How to do the popcorn dance

How To Make Dancing Popcorn (a Science Activity)

In this article: Try this fun science activity with your kids and make some dancing popcorn!

Back 15 years ago when my oldest was about 3 years old, his absolute favorite activity was to make dancing popcorn. I recently resurrected the activity for my 3 year old (and my 8 year old, who was just as excited)

** This website contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may earn a commission. Please click here for more information about cookies collected and our privacy policy **.

For a kid, it almost seems like magic with popcorn kernels bouncing up and down dancing in water. But dancing popcorn is actually a great learning activity with lots of scientific principles at work.

Make your own dancing popcorn and have some good discussions about how it works with your kids!



Age levels: 2 and up


  • 1 quart size jar
  • water
  • 1 T Popcorn kernels (or more)
  • 2-4 T baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • a spoon



Now that you have all your supplies, let’s get dancing!

Start by filling the quart jar about 3/4 full of water. I put all of my supplies on a tray to minimize any mess.

Have your kids add in the baking soda and stir well, until the baking soda has dissolved completely.

Now drop in the pop corn kernels. If your kids are anything like mine they will likely want more than 1 T…we probably added at least 1/4 cup of popcorn.

Now it’s time for fun!

Slowly pour in the vinegar, you may not need it all and if you pour too much too fast you will end up with a volcano-like eruption!

You will know you have added enough vinegar when the popcorn kernels begin to rise and fall.



Observe Your Dancing Popcorn!

My 3 year old was mesmerized by watching the popcorn go up and down and up and down. But he was also very observant,  commenting on the bubbles that surrounded the kernels.

Here are some questions or things to discuss while watching your dancing popcorn:

Why is the popcorn going up? (the bubbles around the kernels are lifting them up)

Why does the popcorn sink when it gets to the top? (some of the bubbles pop when they reach the surface)

What is making the bubbles? (the carbon dioxide gas produced by the reaction of baking soda and vinegar)

You can also come up with other questions and hypothesize on the answers (and then give it a try). Things like:

  • What will happen if you add more vinegar?
  • What will happen if you add more baking soda?
  • Can the bubbles support other items?



How Does Dancing Popcorn Work?

In case it’s been awhile since your last chemistry class, let’s talk about how this little experiment works.

Baking soda is a bicarbonate(or NaHCO3) and it’s a base. Vinegar is an acetic acid (or HCh4COO), which of course is an acid.

When these 2 combine a chemical reaction occurs. As a result of this chemical reaction, carbon dioxide gas is produced. (Here’s a more exact description of what happens during the reaction)

When this reaction happens under water the carbon dioxide gas is trapped in bubbles which then collect on the popcorn kernels.

When enough bubbles have collected the kernels begin to rise.

Remember in the movie UP! when they attach so many helium balloons to the house the house can fly? It’s similar to that.

But what happens when some of those balloons pop? The house starts to sink. The same is true for the popcorn.

When the bubbles reach the top of the jar and hit the air, the gas is released and they bubbles pop. Once a few bubbles have popped there’s no longer enough gas to support the popcorn and it begins to sink.

What makes it dance? The process repeats! As the kernel sinks, more bubbles start to collect again and it rises once more.

The popcorn will dance and dance until the reaction has released all of the carbon dioxide.

Want to make the experiment last longer? Just add more baking soda and vinegar!


Looking for more Baking Soda and Vinegar Activities? Check out the activities below:

7 Baking Soda and Vinegar Activities for Kids!


For More Science Fun Checkout These Articles:

Acid or Base Experiment for Kids

Oil and Water Sensory Bag

Learn About the Butterfly Life Cycle with Real Butterflies

Fire Slime for Science Fun!

Simple Chemical Reaction Experiment (That Gives Off Heat!)



  • water
  • 1 T Popcorn kernels (or more)
  • 2-4 T baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar


  • A quart glass jar
  • a spoon
  • plastic tray (optional)


  1. Start by filling the quart jar about 3/4 full of water
  2. Add in the baking soda and stir well ( until the baking soda has dissolved completely)
  3. Add the pop corn kernels to the jar
  4. Slowly pour in the vinegar, you may not need it all and if you pour too much too fast you will end up with a volcano-like eruption!
  5. You will know you have added enough vinegar when the popcorn kernels begin to rise and fall.
  6. Observe and discuss!

Save & Share!


  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email

How to Do the Dancing Popcorn Experiment

Save this idea for later so you don't forget to use it!


Looking for a fun popcorn experiment?

This dancing popcorn experiment is the perfect dancing corn experiment to test the duration and effectiveness of different chemical reactions.

And who doesn’t love popcorn science?

The popcorn science experiment can be modified for almost any age group. This is one of our favorite quick STEM activities to try in the classroom or home.

Easy Dancing Popcorn Science Experiment

For preschoolers and early elementary students, you can use this activity as a fun Thanksgiving science experiment or simple science demonstration for chemical reactions.

Older children in elementary school and middle school can complete the full experiment with variations, testing, and a hypothesis.

Don’t forget that every popcorn experiment should include a hypothesis, a test, a variation, and the recording of data.

What NGSS Standards Does the Dancing Popcorn Experiment Meet?

This experiment can be used to meet the requirements for the following middle school and elementary school Next Generation Science Standards:

MS-PS1-2 Matter and its Interactions

Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.  

2-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

Analyze data from tests of an object or tool to determine if it works as intended.

Dancing Popcorn Experiment Explanation

This science experiment works through a chemical reaction.  The two chemicals react when mixed and form carbon dioxide (CO2) gas.  The gas forms bubbles that collect around the popcorn kernels.

The gas bubbles lift the kernels up to the surface of the liquid, and when the gas is released, the kernels fall back down into the jar, making it look like the kernels are dancing or jumping!

You may also like the complete list fall science experiments and fall STEM activities!

How to Do the Jumping Popcorn Experiment

This popcorn science project is a fun way to demonstrate chemical reactions and to determine which substances create the longest-lasting reaction.

You’ll want to have several jars on hand to test each mixture, and a timer to determine how long the kernels in each jar bounce before settling to the bottom of the jar.

Repeat the experiment multiple times for the most accurate results.

What you need for the dancing corn experiment:

You will need the following supplies for the dancing popcorn experiment:

    • Mason jars
    • Alka-seltzer tablets
    • Popcorn kernels
    • Baking Soda
    • Vinegar
    • Oil
    • Stop watch 

ball mason 12 Jar with Lid-Regular MouOrville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow, 8 lbMember’s Mark Distilled White Vinegar Jug, 1 galArm & Hammer Baking Soda, 5 LbsCrisco Pure Vegetable Oil, 32 Fl OzSCS Alka-Seltzer Original Antacid and Analgesic – 116 ct. The Mason Jar Scientist: 30 Jarring STEAM-Based ProjectsMARATHON Adanac 3000 Digital Sports Stopwatch Timer with Extra Large Display and Buttons, Water Resistant- Yellow

Dancing popcorn experiment worksheet

Use the worksheet below to record the results of your popcorn experiment!

Directions for the Dancing Popcorn Science Experiment

Follow along with these directions for the dancing corn science experiment!

Fill each jar half-way with your liquid of choice. Use water, oil, or vinegar.

Cover the bottom of each jar with a layer of popcorn kernels.

Add the reactant to the jar and observe.

You may need to stir the popcorn kernels up a bit to get them to start jumping.

Time how long each set of kernels continues to bounce.

The longest-lasting jar has the longest reaction time.


When completing this experiment, test other chemical reactions to determine which produces the best results.

Try using:

  • Alka-Seltzer tablets and water
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Lemon juice and baking soda
  • Citric acid and baking soda
  • Alka-seltzer tablets and oil


We found that the dancing popcorn experiment worked best when we used baking soda and vinegar.

Putting the baking soda into the vinegar slowly helped reduce the reaction time, enabling more of the popcorn kernels to “dance.”

Stirring the kernels with a fork helped them to bounce up and down in the water.

Our kernels bobbed in the vinegar solution for over a minute before finally falling to the bottom of the jar.

More Quick STEM Activities

DIY Real Pokeball: Chemical Reaction Science Activity for Kids

How to Make Fluffy Rainbow Slime (without the mess)

Elephant Toothpaste Explosion Experiment

Mentos and Diet Coke Reactions

Save this idea for later so you don't forget to use it!


Who invented popcorn? | Food and gastronomy

Popcorn sale often accompanies mass festivities and entertainment events. Light, satisfying, healthy product with a huge number of flavors: sweet, salty, caramelized, with various toppings and additives. Already at the entrance to the cinema you are greeted by the smell of this pleasant delicacy. Today, in any supermarket, you can find both a finished product and its semi-finished product, and you can cook popcorn at home without much effort to feast on during a home movie show.

“Popping corn” (popcorn is literally translated) under the influence of high temperature conditions pushes out water and forms steam, in interaction with starch, this breaks the grain shell - and the popcorn is ready!

To make food popcorn, you need a certain variety of corn, the grain must explode. This corn has a thin and tough shell. From this variety a large yield of the finished product. The grain increases in size tenfold, ordinary corn does not give this effect.

In addition, popcorn is incredibly healthy (naturally, a pure product, without the addition of oils and flavors), due to the high content of fiber, which normalizes the amount of cholesterol and also improves digestion. Madonna claims that she lost weight after pregnancy with her first child thanks to popcorn.

Who guessed to “explode” corn kernels? The history of popcorn goes back thousands of years. According to one version, the ancient Indians invented it, having discovered the property of maize grains to explode under the influence of heat. The Indians prepared popcorn in two ways. The whole cob of maize was placed in hot oil, or the grain was separated from the cob and heated over the fire in special containers. Ancient popcorn utensils were made from clay and minerals. Then they began to make it metal. There was a hole on top, and the handle was made in the form of some kind of animal or decorated with carvings. Much later, special frying pans were invented. With a mesh cover to prevent the grain from shooting off.

The ancient Indians took bags of ground popcorn with them on long hikes. Light in weight, satisfying, quick to prepare and not spoiled for a long time - it was an indispensable product. It was he who became the prototype of "fast food". They ate it both dry and brewed with boiling water.

In the middle of the 20th century, treasure hunters in Beth Cave found a 5600-year-old grain of exploded corn! And it was still quite edible.

According to another version, the originators of popcorn were Mexicans. They cooked it in hot sand and on a stone. A stick was inserted into the grain, and a fire was lit nearby. This method of making popcorn is about 1500 years old. Hernan Cortes, during the invasion of Mexico in 1519, got acquainted with popcorn and was surprised by the attitude of the natives to this product.

Popcorn was an integral part of the Aztec diet at this time. Solemn ceremonies could not do without its use and were accompanied by popcorn dances. It was also used as decoration for clothes and necklaces, as well as for hair decoration.

In Mexico City, in a funerary urn dating back to 300 BC, a statuette of a corn goddess was found. On her head was a grain of popped corn.

The popularity of popcorn came in 1880-1885 in America. At this time, special equipment for making popcorn was invented by Charles Cretors and called the "popper". It was a machine with a handle for the plant, when it rotated, the grain was mixed. Later machines were either powered by gas or steam. At first, the "poppers" were large and were a complex unit. Later they became more compact, which made it possible to move around and sell fresh popcorn on the streets of cities. But home popper machines for making popcorn appeared in 1925 year.

In America, the peak of popcorn sales occurred just during the Great Depression. At this time, a fairly cheap treat (5-10 cents per package) was one of the available products for the poor. This business, unlike others, prospered.

At the end of the 19th century, Friedrich Rückheim added boiled caramel and other fillings to popcorn.

And the most popular and profitable way to use popcorn came up with Samuel Rubin. It is thanks to him that we still buy popcorn in the original packaging in cinemas today.

The most active popcorn-consuming nation is still the Americans: according to statistics, the average American consumes 65 liters of popcorn per year! It remains a profitable business due to cheap raw materials and ease of manufacture. In Russia, popcorn gained popularity in the late nineties, when modern cinemas and cinema centers arose. And it remains a staple purchased at movie theater bars.

Finally, we owe popcorn to the emergence of microwave ovens! Percy Spencer in 1945 discovered the ability of corn to explode when exposed to microwaves. This indispensable discovery gave way to one of the most important directions in the food industry. Who would have thought!

And while this article was being written, the author was surprised by interesting facts and enjoyed caramelized popcorn. I wish you the same, because in life there should always be a place for pleasure!

Tags: corn, interesting fact, product, food, story, inventions, popcorn

How popcorn came to cinema and what else is eaten while watching movies around the world

We are used to chewing or eating during a movie. Most often, this is a great and terrible popcorn, the same one that the neighbor crunches so inopportunely at the moment of the love explanation of the characters. However, do you know how popcorn made its way into cinema and why it is considered almost an anti-depressant? We tell in our article!

P.S. And for dessert, we'll show you what they eat in movies in other countries of the world.

The word popcorn is translated from English as "popped" or "exploded corn". The combination of the pleasant smell of this victim of a small explosion and a cinema hall appeared only in the 20s of the last century, although people guessed to roast corn grains 3 thousand years ago. The result was a very satisfying and at the same time light flakes that the tribes of South America took with them to hunt. Popcorn, of course, was not called “popcorn” then, and even more so, no one added tasty “seasonings” like caramel and salt to it.

Everything changed dramatically towards the end of the 19th century, when popcorn produced BOOM! in the field of entertainment. In 1885, Charles Creetors invented the corn flake cart and popcorn hit the streets of the United States. Sellers with carts, inside of which deliciously exploding corn grains, could be seen everywhere: in the circus, at the fair, in the park and just on the street. People were attracted by several things: ease of preparation, unusual taste (already at the dawn of the invention of popcorn, manufacturers began to experiment with its taste - caramel, jam, honey, salt, pepper, etc. ) and an attractive crunch. Plus, its production was cheap: at that time it cost 2 cents for a small package.

Now we usually buy popcorn and go to watch a movie. But things were different before. Movie theaters aspired to be like a classical theater, so crispy food was forbidden in every possible way. In addition, small flakes did not always fall into the viewer's mouth, but remained on the floor after the session, which the administration was very unhappy with. Everything changed by the end of the 1920s with the advent of sound in cinema. The speech of the actor and the music from the film attracted more attention than the crunch of popcorn. However, until the 1930s, viewers still could not buy popcorn at the cinema itself, since there were no conditions for its preparation and sale. This problem was solved with the help of the same sellers with carts: they approached the cinema before the start of the session and provided the audience with a sweet snack, and they hid it under their clothes and carried it into the cinema hall.

Surprisingly, popcorn was at its best during the Great Depression in the US (1930s). Then the movie theater bosses realized that cheap and tasty popcorn is literally the most affordable antidepressant for people. They themselves began to sell it to viewers, outbidding the technology from sellers with carts. At the same time, cinemas that did not do this ended up suffering major losses - people went to where there was a delicious crunchy treat and stayed to watch films there. At the same time, the first popcorn advertisement appeared: before the start of the film, and sometimes even in the middle, a joyful female voice spoke about carbonated drinks, sweets and popcorn that could be bought at the checkout. So the film business slowly but surely created a familiar image for us, led by popcorn, without which cinemas (and audiences) would have a hard time.

Then, in the middle of the 20th century, the attention of Americans was attracted by His Majesty the TV, which was already in almost every home. Cinema attendance was falling, and with it, popcorn sales. However, by that time people were already accustomed to watching a movie and eating it with something sweet - a special “popcorn ritual” was formed. Sweets sellers fussed, starting to shoot ads where children gobble up chocolates and drink chocolate milk while sitting in the living room watching TV, but chocolate did not become a “popcorn substitute” - it was perceived only as a dessert that is harmful to eat in large quantities. Popcorn manufacturers began to think about how to help the exploding corn get to the TVs, and the solution came very soon: first, paper bags of corn kernels were invented for cooking in the oven, and then, with the advent of microwave ovens, in them. So, as history shows, popcorn is a very mobile product that eventually gets to the right place.

However, popcorn is an example from American history where "exploded corn" took root once and for all. And what do people “savor” while watching movies in other countries of the world? After all, there are different traditions and different habits everywhere.

Holland - salted licorice

Movie theaters in Holland treat visitors to salted licorice. This is a confectionery product that is made from licorice root with the addition of edible salt. It turns out an unusual snack for lovers of sweet-salty contrast.

Colombia - fried ants

Snacks in a Colombian movie theater may shock you, but don't be scared (we ourselves are shocked). Colombians are very fond of their traditional "cinema dish" - deep-fried ants. Therefore, they carefully take care of the rich spicy taste of these completely harmless (in life) insects. But if you suffer from insectophobia, then it is better to skip this crunchy treat...

Japan - fried sardines

Fish lovers will enjoy it to their heart's content in Japanese cinemas. Fried sardines will also appeal to lovers of sweet and savory snacks: they are fried in soy sauce with sugar and sesame.

Greece - souvlaki

This chicken mini-barbecue can be tasted most often on the Moscow-Sochi highway. In Greece, they sell it directly to the cinema. True, they are prepared only in outdoor cinemas, and only from May to August.

Thailand - tom yum flavored popcorn

Movie theaters in Thailand serve popcorn with exotic flavors such as wasabi or tiriyaki flavored popcorn. But the most positive reviews are collected by the taste of tom yum sauce. In Thailand, "tom yum" is the name for local hot sweet and sour soups. We won't describe what it tastes like... we won't taste it - you really have to try it. (But tasty, tart.)

India - samosas

Bollywood impresses the audience not only with exotic dances in films, but also with delicious exotic food in cinemas. Samosas are small triangular shaped pastries. Their fillings are mostly vegetarian: a combination of potatoes, onions and mashed peas. Although there are also meat versions.

Finland - sweet mix

Visitors to a Finnish cinema can pick up a bunch of different jelly sweets near the box office before watching: worms, jelly jaws, bears, etc.

Learn more