The lower schoolers could barely sit still as they excitedly watched Dr. Frassinnelli move around the room, lighting the burners under beakers filled with popcorn kernels and oil.
Dr. Frassinelli's class was participating in day two of the "Popcorn Percentages" science experiment, in which students test whether Orville Redenbacher or Kroger brand popcorn yields the greater number of popped kernels.
Each team starts with fifty seeds and alternates between brands over two days while keeping records in a data table of the kernels that did or did not pop.
"This lab is always a winner because most kiddos have only experienced popcorn in the microwave," Lower School science teacher Dr. Frassinelli said. "The students get to measure out the seeds and oil, watch and hear the seeds pop, count them, eat them, and even do a little science."
As the anticipation rose to see whose group would produce the most popcorn, students were impressed by the commotion happening inside their beakers. Some students squealed with excitement every time a kernel popped while others leaned across their desks, eager to get a closer look.
"The students are amazed that popcorn pops because of the tiny bit of water contained and sealed within each seed," Dr. Frassinelli said. "They learn that if the water is heated sufficiently it must expand, which makes them want to ask questions about things like the volume ratio of liquid water to water vapor."
Dr. Frassinelli conducts the popcorn experiment with his classes every year and is always excited to see the joy it brings his students.
"This experiment is very memorable," Dr. Frasinelli said. "Students I used to teach that are now in Upper School actually ask me if I still do this one."