Suquamish first graders give Safeway the top pop

SUQUAMISH — A subtle elementary science fair project, one designed to determine what popcorn brand has the most kernels, will end up having its results seen by as many as 200,000 people.

Suquamish first and second grade teachers Marie Lane and Allison Bruschetto contacted grocery corporation Safeway after the class’ project concluded that the brand held the most overall kernels of any they tested.

Safeway’s response was to come to the elementary March 7 and reward the students for their efforts — as well as put a story in the corporation’s approximately 200,000 circulation newsletter.

“I was very excited to learn of their project and all of the hard work they put in to come up with their conclusion,” said Safeway Corporate Brands Retail Manager Aaron Nelson in a letter to the school. “They were very thorough and their display board (was) very professional.”

Safeway’s reward to the students made their eyes grow big — and undoubtedly, their bellies grow full.

“We each got a whole bag of Tuxedos (Safeway’s cookie, similar to an Oreo),” said second grader Evan Gallant. “And we each got a whole box of Safeway popcorn.”

Each student’s enthusiasm stemmed from the result that the Safeway brand held more than each of the other national brands.

“It had the most kernels and the most popped kernels,” said first grader Lena Musselman.

“We learned that you should always buy Safeway popcorn because it has the most kernels,” added Gallant, who was sporting goggles and a white jacket in the spirit of the science fair March 17.

Not everyone expected the grocery giant to be the winner, though.

“I was very surprised of the outcome,” said second grader Jack Larson, who added he enjoyed the experience not only because learned which company is the “King of Pop” — the title of the class’ experiment — but because he can pass on the knowledge he’s acquired.

“It’s fun to learn stuff you don’t know,” he said, “Because you might ask your parents and they’ll say they didn’t know it.”

The teachers said the knowledge the students had blew away the corporate higher ups.

“The executives came in and said, ‘Wow, you just came in and did something that our professional employees do,’” Bruschetto commented. “’And you’re only 7 or 8 years old.’”

Science now makes up one fourth of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), which each of the students will have to take when they get to the fourth grade. Thus, teachers must emphasize it heavily, even at the elementary level, Bruschetto added.

“Science used to be scary for kids in elementary school,” she said. “If we can make it more hands on and more fun now, it will be easier for them to make it in high school.”

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