Feb 07

Perseverance lessons can be found everywhere – even in Jiffy Pop!

I LOVE popcorn. I usually make it on the stove then slather it in butter and Parmesan cheese. Yum! And I am really good at popping it on the stove. My parents taught me well. You pour in the oil and add three kernels. Then, you turn it to medium high heat and wait for the three kernels to pop. Once they have popped, you pour in the rest of the popcorn you want to pop. Let it sit for a bit, give it a shake, and listen to the sound of popping!

We are discussing the heating of the atmosphere via radiation, conduction, and convection. One of my colleagues shared that a great way to show our students how the heating works was via popcorn! What kids doesn’t like a popcorn party? You use a microwave popcorn for radiation, Jiffy Pop on a hot plate for conduction, and a hot air popper for convection. Easy, right? (Especially for a seasoned popcorn popper like myself)

Last year was the first year I tried to teach it this way, and everything went well except the Jiffy Pop. I could not seem to get those kernels to pop! I tried during all four of my class periods with no success. This year, I (crazily) decided to try again.

First period, I put the Jiffy Pop on the hot plate, turn it on, and wait to hear sizzling per the directions. Once it sizzles, I swirl and swirl – for 20 minutes! and nothing happens. I give up.

Second period, I repeat the process. I also enlist students who have had experience popping Jiffy Pop. One student reads the directions, and we realize I missed the part about preheating the hot plate. Needless to say, the popcorn never popped.

Third period, I preheat the hot plate, I place the Jiffy Pop on it, I swirl when it sizzles – and it doesn’t work! I decide that perhaps the hot plate wasn’t hot enough.

Fourth period, my last class of the day comes in, and I am ready to throw in the towel. I told my kids I didn’t think it would work, and I was thinking about not even trying. However, they convinced me we should try it. So, I preheat the hot plate – much hotter this time. I place the Jiffy Pop on and wait to hear the sizzling. Once it stars sizzling, I start swirling and swirling and swirling and swirling and . . . you get the picture. And then, the top starts to slowly inflate. It starts getting taller and taller. Then, the magic sound: popping kernels. First one, then another, then, another – then a chorus of popping! The container starts to get really puffy, and the kernels keep on popping!

Finally, we had success. If I had given up with fourth period, I would never have figured out how to pop Jiffy Pop. Since I did figure it out, I then popped some more for all of my classes the following day. Everyone was so excited – and finally we saw conduction in action.

A successful pan of Jiffy Pop!

A successful pan of Jiffy Pop!

And it’s amazing to me that I found another lesson to persevere – while trying to cook popcorn!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: