What happens when you mix baking soda, vinegar, and corn together? Find out with an exciting Dancing Corn science experiment your kiddos will love.
The Dancing Corn Science Experiment can be done at home or school to entertain your junior scientist and teach them about chemical reactions in a visually fun way! This easy science experiment only requires common kitchen ingredients. I’m guessing you already have everything you need, don’t worry, I have a supply list, directions, and even learning worksheets for you.
When gathering supplies, it seems like the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment, but with the addition of different variables like cups of water and corn, you will notice how different and exciting it really is!
Dried popcorn kernels are a good Fall and Thanksgiving Time theme. In our house, popcorn is enjoyed all the time…so feel free to do this science project anytime, we think it will be the perfect time!
This experiment is great for any age group, in fact, all of my kids, (Age 3-preschooler, 8 and 10-elementary school) loved seeing the results of this experiment and watching the corn kernels move around and dance in the jar. The first time they poured the vinegar into the jar they were delighted as they saw the eruption and bubbles pop at the top of the jar.
Since this science experiment is fairly fool-proof, it’s a perfect opportunity for children to explore their natural curiosity.
Once my kids had completed following the science experiment directions, I let them use the supplies to make predictions, and add to the experiment. They added more vinegar, they sprinkled in more baking soda, and they put in drops of food coloring making amazing reactions from the science experiment and my kids (you can hear the giggles on the video). Each additional step resulted in a new observation and more popping bubbles (co2).
Why does popcorn dance in vinegar and baking soda?
When baking soda and vinegar combine, the result is a chemical reaction making carbonic acid. When the carbonic acid decomposes (breaks down or changes) it releases Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The Carbon Dioxide gas forms bubbles that make the corn dance. You can read more about this on Sciencing.com.
The printable activity pack includes the explanation of the science behind this experiment so your children don’t just do the experiment, but they can learn as they observe chemistry in action.
Why do you use Popcorn Kernels for this Experiment?
Popcorn Kernels have tiny scratches and holes on them. This gives the carbon dioxide bubbles a place to hold onto so they can attach to the kernel and do what bubbles do, float up. When the corn kernels reach the surface, the bubbles release it (pop), and the kernel is left alone to sink back to the bottom of the jar giving it the “dancing action”. An explication of this is also included in the activity pack.
This experiment has also been done with raisins.
You could even EXTEND THE SCIENCE EXEPERIMENT and let your children make a hypothesis (educated guess), and select other small objects to try in the jar. Then they could sort the objects that could dance like the corn and the objects that could not dance because of the objects weight or outside surface.
Safety Tips For This Experiment
To do the Dancing Corn experiment you will be using vinegar and baking soda so it’s a relatively safe experiment, just keep it out of eyes. Activities should always be done with adult supervision. Children should be told not to “eat or drink” the science experiment as a safety precaution and good “science lab” safety.
You can do this science experiment on its own, or have extra fun and increase learning with our: DANCING CORN SCIENCE ACTIVITY PACK that’s designed to introduce concepts of the scientific method.
EACH SCIENCE PACK IS CREATED TO:
- Make doing the activity EASY for you!
- Enhance LEARNING for your kids!
- Be ready to PRINT, PREP, and Do!
- PRINTABLE ADD-ONS (When needed)
- VIDEO EXAMPLE (When available)
DANCING CORN DIRECTIONS
DANCING CORN LAB WORKSHEETS
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Dancing Corn Science Experiment
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Supplies: Materials You Will Need
- White Vinegar (around 1/2 cup)
- Baking Soda 1-2 tbsp
- Water (around 2 cups)
- Clear Container (around 16 oz)
- Optional: Food Coloring
Tip: You may want to place the jar on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow.
Directions: How To Do The Experiment
You can watch our short tutorial video or read the directions below.
- Fill the container with water. Make sure to leave 1 or 2 inches at the top.
- Put 1-2 tbs. of baking soda in the water and stir until it dissolves.
- If the water does not turn clear:
- The experiment will still work but it might be harder to see the corn.
- Add a little more water to the jar to make the water clear again.
- If the water does not turn clear:
- Pour corn kernels into the container.
- Pour the vinegar slowly into the container until the water level is near the top.
- When bubbles start forming at the bottom of the container, you can stop and observe the experiment. (It will look like soda bubbles).
- Optional: Add a drop of food coloring to watch it swirl and diffuse in the water.
- The food coloring does not change the results of the experiment.