Math IS Real Life: March 2016 Edition – Popcorn!

It’s the first Wednesday of March which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!

If you are linking up, please include the below picture to link back to this blog post


 A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by MissMathDork,


Recently, I was being rather nostalgic.  I was thinking about various memories of making homemade popcorn balls and caramel popcorn with my grandparents.  Popcorn was a STAPLE at their house.  It seemed like something we popped there at least once a week.  I remember the big steel “popcorn” pot that my grandmother used.  We only used that pot for popcorn – it was “seasoned” to pop all the kernels just right.  Looking back, it was probably the only pot they had that was big enough to pop the amount that my sister and I would go through, but at the time, that reasoning seemed logical.

These memories, of course, made me hungry, and made me realize that I haven’t made non-store bought popcorn since I was young.  I mentioned this to my husband and he reminisced that his family used to have a hot air popper.  I’ve used a hot air popper before and decided that I would use my unspent birthday money to purchase one.

Two days later (thank you Amazon Prime!) my new popper showed up!


I was SUPER excited to try it out.  I had purchased some kernels and was ready to try out the machine when I realized that I didn’t know what the kernel to popped pop corn ratio was.  Being the adventurous one (aka too lazy to look it up online).


 I decided to just make the “maximum” amount that could fit in the machine at a given time and see how much it made — 1/2 cup of kernels can’t make *that* much popcorn….right?  So I measured out 1/2 cup, and put it in the machine.

  Click the picture below to download a video the popcorn popping.  This is a quick video for students who have never seen / used a hot air popper!

To my surprise 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels + 60 seconds of hot air makes A LOT of popcorn (I honestly didn’t expect the bowl to be filled… I thought maybe 1/2 full).  What constitutes a lot?  In my case, 14.5 cups.


I’ve since looked online and found varying reports.  Some websites say 1 oz (1/8 c.) yields 1 quart.  Others say  1 oz yields 2.5 cups.  After experimenting some more (I need to eat more popcorn, obviously!) I’ve learned both of the above measurements are true.  There appears to be a range of 2.5 – 4 cups of popcorn for every ounce, or in my case 10 – 16 cups of popcorn for each 1/2 c.

Perhaps we can use the hot air popper in class next week to build a scatter plot, and see if we can find a line of regression to get a better estimate as my experimental range is still pretty varied.   Oh… and of course, I’ll need to make some caramel corn (still haven’t made that to satisfy that nostalgia!) for our kiddos to eat while they estimate and predict!

Here’s the recipe I plan on using if you’re interested.  Based on my experiments I need to make at least 2 batches of popcorn to make the amount below.  I *may* need to double or triple this recipe, though… after-all, there needs to be some left for the kiddos!


p.s. In searching online, I also found a cool website that has popcorn facts and lessons that can be used in the classroom.


  Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below!  Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!

Categories: #mirl, computation and estimation, and math is real life.


  1. Shelby DOdds

    What a great, fun, and delicious, way to incorporate math into your daily life. I don’t think many people understand how much we use math on a daily basis.

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