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 The Popcorn Badge 

(Discover Agriculture)

by Sophia and Kamilla Sepulveda

Troop#112 Waxhaw, NC

Optional requirements are listed at the end of the badge.  All higher level requirements may be used as optional requirements with parent approval.
*(Popcorn is included on the list of foods that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not serving to children under four, because of the risk of choking. Special "hull-less" popcorn has been developed that offers an alternative for small children and for people with braces or other dental problems who may otherwise need to avoid popcorn.)

Penguins: Choose three requirements including the two starred  
_____*1. What type of corn kernels are used for popcorn? What makes it pop? Discuss this with a parent.
_____*2. List different methods for popping corn (microwave, stovetop, etc.)

 
Otters: Choose four requirements including the two starred.
_____*1. Do Penguin requirements # 1 & 2, sample at least three different kinds of popcorn one of which you make yourself with parent approval.

_____*2. Learn the stages of a corn plant such as germination, ear development, pollination, harvest and drying. Identify the different parts (roots, stalk, leaves, tassels, ears).

 

Dolphins: Choose five requirements including the two starred.
_____*1. Do Otter requirements # 1 & 2, but sample four kinds of popcorn two of which you make yourself with parent approval.
_____ *2. Define sprouting, silking, milking and denting. and explain why it is important that corn plants be grown near other corn plants.

 

Butterflies: Choose six requirements including the two starred.
_____*1.  Do Dolphin requirements #1 & 2, but sample five kinds of popcorn, using at least two different cooking types that you make yourself (kettle cooked, stovetop, microwave, open fire, air popped or machine popped).
_____*2.  Learn about the nutrition of popcorn. What is the difference in nutritional value when you add flavoring such as butter, caramel and Parmesan cheese? How about in the different methods of cooking popcorn?

 
Eagles:  Choose seven requirements including the two starred.
_____*1.  Do Butterfly requirements #1and 2. Also, describe the 4 stages of a corn plant (sprouting, silking, etc.), and why it is important that they be grown near other corn plants. Are there other health claims made about popcorn? What studies support those claims?

_____ *2.  Gather the nutritional facts of popped corn (per 1 cup, based on a 2,000 cal. diet) cooked with oil, without oil, with butter, caramel coated, and one other of your choice. Compare them.

 

Owl: Choose nine requirements including the two starred:

_____ 1. *  Do Eagle requirements 1 & 2

_____ 2. *  Teach someone how to do a skill from this badge or teach some knowledge about this badge to someone.   You can teach kids, your spouse, seniors, anyone, just as long as you are sharing your new found knowledge.   If for some reason you cannot teach what you have learned to someone else, you may choose an additional 2 optional requirements instead.

 

Optional Requirements:
_____ 3.  Make a food item using popcorn and give it as a gift to someone else.  Examples might be: a tin of caramel corn, popcorn balls or popcorn cake. Donate to your local fire fighters, police officers, shut ins or nursing home residents.
_____ 4.  Host a Popcorn Party and use popcorn for the décor, food and the games.
_____ 5. With appropriate help if needed, prepare at least two recipes that use popcorn. Here are some ideas: http://www.popcorn.org/NutritionRecipes/Recipes/tabid/67/Default.aspx
_____ 6.  Learn the history of popcorn, including the processing and use of popcorn in general. When and where were the oldest ears of popcorn found? Are there any myths or legends regarding popcorn? Butterfly and above make a timeline.
_____ 7. Try to grow some popcorn. How many days until you see roots? leaves? ears? Find out when your popcorn will be ready to pick and how to prepare it for popping.
_____ 8.  Make a craft out of popcorn or other parts of the corn plant. Examples: a seed mosaic, bird feeder, popcorn garland for a Christmas tree, corn husk doll
_____ 9.  Find a healthy alternative to replace a sweet or savory popcorn recipe. Make them both and conduct a blind taste test with a few friends or family members.
_____ 10. Tour a popcorn farm or processing plant (a virtual tour is fine too with parent’s permission). Find out how to grow, harvest, store, process, package and ship it. Which states grow the most corn?

_____ 11. Read a book on popcorn.  If you are a Dolphin read 2, Butterfly read 3, Eagle read 4, and Owl read 5. (The Biggest Popcorn Party Ever in Center County, By Jane Hoober Peifer; If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, By Laura Joffe Numeroff; The Popcorn Book, By Tommie DePaola; Popcorn, By Frank Asch; Popcorn!, By Elaine Landau; Popcorn at the Palace, By Emily Arnold McCully; Popcorn Plants, By Kathleen V. Kudlinski; Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America, By Andrew F. Smith; What Makes Popcorn Pop?, By Dave Woodside.)
_____ 12. Find out how to make stale popcorn crispy again. Why does it work? Try it.
_____ 13. Make up a game using popcorn and then try it out with your troop or friends. Make modifications if necessary to make the game work.
_____ 14. List three companies that sell popcorn. What is gourmet popcorn? List some of the popcorn products they sell. Which one would you like best?
_____ 15.  Find out what kind of pests affect popcorn, what beneficial insects like this grain and how easy it is to grow organically.
_____ 16. Study the economics of popcorn farms.  What are the start-up costs and hoped-for income?  Do the farmers need to hire a lot of help?  What expenses are there?
_____ 17. Name and the describe the different varieties of popcorn. What are the different flavor characteristics? What varieties create a mushroom shape when popped? Which ones a butterfly shape? Describe how to color popcorn using food dye.
_____ 18. Answer the following trivia: How much popcorn does the average American eat annually? The ideal popping temperature is ______. The ideal place to store popcorn is _______. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's largest popcorn ball weighed _______. When is National Popcorn Poppin’ month?
_____ 19. Try this simple experiment to prove that moisture is inside popcorn kernels. (Eagles and Owls do the experiment below) Have an adult help you. Use a test tube. Place one kernel of popcorn in the bottom of the tube. Cover the tube with aluminum foil and poke a few small holes in the foil. Use tongs to hold the test tube as you hold it over a lighted candle.You should be able to see steam escape. Where is that steam coming from? If you hold the popcorn over the candle for a few minutes, it should heat up enough to pop.
(This experiment is for Eagles and Owls only, unless parent/guardian approves) Conduct this fun and interesting experiment and share your findings with your troop or other group of people such as family/friends.
1: The Control Experiment. Before you perform any experiments, first set up a control: Count out 100 popcorn kernels. Heat oil until it begins to smoke. Add the popcorn and let it pop. When the popping stops, count how many of the 100 seeds popped and how many did not pop.
2: What will happen if there is more water inside the popcorn kernels? Count 100 popcorn kernels from the same bag used in the control experiment. Soak the kernels in water overnight. The next day, drain off the water and pat the kernels dry. Hypothesize what might happen when the kernels are heated and why. Follow the same popping procedure used in the control experiment. When the popcorn is done, count how many of the 100 seeds popped and how many did not pop. Did the kernels with more water pop bigger or faster or better? Or was the popcorn too saturated to pop?
3: What if the popcorn is heated at a lower temperature? Count 100 popcorn kernels from the same bag used in the control experiment. Heat the oil in the popper to a temperature of only 250 degrees F. Hypothesize what might happen when the kernels are heated and why. When the popcorn is done, count how many of the 100 seeds popped and how many did not pop. Did the lower temperature pop the kernels bigger or faster or better? Or did the lower temperature fail to heat the water in the popcorn kernels enough to pop them?
4: What if you warm the popcorn kernels before popping them? Preheat an oven to 200 degrees F. Spread 100 popcorn kernels on a baking sheet and preheat them for 90 minutes. Remove the kernels from the oven and allow them to cool. (Alternative: Leave the popcorn sitting on a very sunny shelf for a few days.) Hypothesize what might happen when the kernels are heated and why. Follow the same popping procedure used in the control experiment. When the popcorn is done, count how many of the100 seeds popped and how many did not pop. Did the preheated kernels pop bigger or faster or better? Or did preheating dry up the tiny bit of water inside each kernel, so it would not pop.
5: What if you poke holes in the popcorn kernels? Will that help the heat get inside and pop the corn more quickly? Use a needle to make several tiny punctures in the outer covering of a 10 kernels, not 100.  Hypothesize what might happen when the kernels pop and why. Follow the same popping procedure used in the control experiment. Did the punctured kernels pop bigger or faster or better? Or did the holes let more steam escape and prevent pressure from building up inside the kernels?
Popcorn production is an exacting process. The amount of water inside a kernel of popcorn must be quite precise, as was proven in some of the experiments above. Can you come up with additional experiments to test other popping hypotheses?
http://www.popcorn.org/
http://www.ilcorn.org/uploads/useruploads/files/education/cornbooklet.pdf