EngradeWikis › Background Research Paper Requirements and Example

Requirements for the Background Research Paper

The Format of the Background Research Paper is clarified below:


Body of the Paper

1. Include an introductory paragraph about the question you will be seeking to answer in your science fair experiment.

2. Include a paragraph about the hypothesis you will test to determine the answer to your question or the demonstration you plan to do.

3. Include Background Research Paragraphs that include the information you researched when I sent you background research questions. This information should be written in such a way that the info below is included and reads in a logical, not choppy manner. In other words you should take the research you have done and write out your paragraphs in a meaningful way. Your research should include:
A. answers to research questions you were given to research
B. a paragraph about what you will do in your experiment to test your hypothesis or demonstrate your model.

Glossary: definitions of terms may be discussed within the background research or listed as a set of numbered definitions on a separate page

Bibliography or Resources

Don't forget to include the source from which you got the science fair project idea.

"The Jawbreakers of the Popcorn Industry"

This is an example of a Science Fair Background Research Paper so you can see one from start to finish. The Science Fair Board is not shown in this example but an example is also posted on Engrade. This sample paper was completed by a young man named Sean Boyd. He entitled his project "The Jawbreakers of the Popcorn Industry."

Problem or Research Question

I’m sure almost everyone has had microwave popcorn. Well, anyone who has had the easy to make snack has also had a hard time with those blasted un-popped kernels. Well, this experiment is going to answer that age-old question. Which brand off popcorn yields the least amount of un-popped kernels?


A lot of people have differing opinions on which popcorn has the least amount of un-popped kernels. Some think Orville Redenbacher, the expensive, gourmet popcorn to be the best popped kernel producer. Others may say the under-dog, the low priced, no-name brand (like Aldi Food Company’s Corntown brand) is the best. My hypothesis is that Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn will be the best in terms of un-popped kernels, and that Aldi’s Corntown Brand will be the worst in un-popped kernel amount.

Background Research

Popcorn is a type of maize which, unlike other types of corn, pops when heated in oil or dry. It was first found and used to pop by Native Americans thousands of years ago. The kind of popcorn most people pop in their microwaves is the species Zea mays L subsp mays. Popcorn was introduced to the West by Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century. As with other corns, popcorn has a certain amount of moisture inside itself. But, unlike other corns, popcorn has a stronger outer hull that doesn’t let moisture escape as fast as other corn when heated.

As the kernel is heated to the boiling point, water inside the kernel starts to turn into steam, causing pressure inside the kernel to about 9 times the pressure of air. Inside other types of corn - as well as damaged popcorn kernels - the steam escapes the kernel as fast as it is formed. The difference with popcorn is that the outer hull is strong enough to hold the steam in, until it ruptures in a small explosion and turns it inside out, to become the white fluffy stuff, better known as popcorn!

There are two explanations to why some kernels do not pop. One is that the popcorn kernel just doesn’t have enough moisture to turn to steam. The other explanation is the outer hull is leaky, and causes the steam to escape before it can become super pressurized and explode the outer hull. This could be caused by mishandling of the kernels at the factory, or maltreatment of the kernels during shipment. The question is which brand of popcorn handles the kernels the best at the factory and during shipping and uses only the best corn?

I’ve found websites that host information on experiments done by people doing the same thing I am. On one website http://www.mercer.edu/camps/message/summer2001/summer2001-popcorn.htm they concluded that Act II was the best popping popcorn. This website, though, didn’t tell how long they cooked each popcorn brand, and they popped each kernel individually. Another website http://www.k12.nf.ca/greenwood/virsci/Intermediate/popcorn/popcorn.htm said that the best popping popcorn was Orville Redenbacher. But, their experiment also took into account price and taste. My experiment is only focusing on kernels.

Bibliography, References or Citations

Scientists Discover the Secret of Popcorn's Popability, Robert Roy Britt, www.livescience.com

Popcorn, www.wikipedia.com

Popcorn, a type of flint corn, encarta.msn.com

Which brand of popcorn pops the most? http://www.mercer.edu/camps/message/summer2001/summer2001-popcorn.htm

Which as the best "pop" for your buck, http://www.k12.nf.ca/greenwood/virsci/Intermediate/popcorn/popcorn.htm

My mom
(How nice to credit his mom!!!)