Thanksgiving STEM Activity

By Melissa Taylor


With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, we thought we’d prepare you with a fun activity to keep your little ones busy while they are home from school. In this experiment, we’ll use popcorn as a yummy way to teach your kids about estimating and volume. Then, for a little fun, we’ll take the popcorn and make a popcorn turkey!

Background knowledge: Volume is the space occupied by an object. As a practical example, a measuring cup in your kitchen can measure the volume of liquids that you use.


  • Popcorn kernels
  • Measuring cup
  • Air popcorn popper (or you can put kernels in a brown paper bag in the microwave)
  • 1 large paper bag
  • 2 small paper bags
  • White paper
  • Tape


1. Measure out ½ a cup of popcorn kernels. Have your kids estimate how many cups of popped popcorn they think this will make. 2 cups? 4 cups? Write down this prediction to come back to later.


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2. Pop the popcorn. Explain to your kids that adding heat to the popcorn causes a reaction that pops the corn and changes its form, or its state of matter.

State of Matter: A distinct form that matter can take. The four observable examples are: solid, liquid, gas and plasma.

3. Measure the popped corn. Record how many cups, then compare with the estimations. Were you close or not?


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4. Use the information that you’ve gathered to make predictions for the volume of popped popcorn for 1, 2 and 5 cups of kernels. This will require your kids to solve problems using critical thinking.

5. Finally, what’s time off from school without a little fun? It’s time to make a popcorn turkey with your popped corn! Stuff the popcorn into a large paper bag and tape it closed. (We found that if you butter the popcorn, it leaks through the paper. To avoid this, line the bag with parchment paper.)


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6. Get two small paper bags for the legs, and add white paper fringe to the top closure.


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7. Tape the legs onto the large paper bag. Now you have a yummy popcorn turkey!


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We hope you have a delicious time learning about popcorn and volume! Want to get your child involved in more STEM fun? Consider signing he or she up for a winter STEM class at Sylvan! Happy Thanksgiving!