Sunday, August 22, 2021

Do Edible Science! Let's Pop, Pop, Pop, Popcorn! by Cynthia Schumerth




What any seed does to grow and turn itself into a full-grown plant that makes a "fruit" that contains new seeds is magical enough when you think about it, but that's just the first thing a popcorn seed does, in Cynthia Schumerth's just published science project in a book, Let's Pop, Pop, Popcorn! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2021). In case you have months of warm weather ahead, Schumerth describes how to plant, nurture, and to harvest the ears of popcorn, shuck them, and dry the kernels until it's time for the second part of the project--the part that you can eat! The author reminds her young food scientists to weed and water their little corn plants until they grow ears that are mature and ready for picking and then describes how to store them until you are ready to POP some corn.

In bouncy rhythmic rhyme, not unlike the sound of popping popcorn kernels, author Schermerth teaches about the anatomy of a kernel of popping corn, the germ that knows how to grow into corn, the endosperm, the starch that surrounds the germ and feeds its growth into corn, and the pericarp, the tough shell of the corn kernel that protects the starch and helps it retain some of its moisture even when it seems hard and dry.

And it's that water given to the plant, that moisture within the endosperm, that expands when it's heated, turning into steam which causes the corn kernel to EXPLODE, turn inside out, and become fluffy white popcorn, a tasty science experiment that teaches both plant science and physical science in the use of heat to produce expansion in matter.

It's a tasty tour de force of nature and physics that provides its own refreshments, and with the cute cartoon art of Mary Reaves Uhles to illustrate the whole process and its appended information and craft suggestions (Make A Popcorn Sheep), this book is recommended for primary grade classrooms, libraries, and for an edible home science experiment. Writes Kirkus Reviews, "Fun: a highly disguised STEM book for snack lovers.

Share this one with the classic, Tomie dePaola's The Popcorn Book (40th Anniversary Edition) and Frank Asch's Popcorn (A Frank Asch Bear Book).

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