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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
It will take an hour to set up the science project experiment, and an hour to conduct it
Material availability:
The materials required for this science fair project can be purchased at a supermarket. Borrow the cell phones from your friends and family members.
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements. Conduct this experiment at your own risk of exposure to cellphone radiation.


This science fair project was conducted to ascertain if cell phone radiation is sufficiently strong to cook popcorn. The experiment was conducted using several cell phones.


Cell phone radiation contains sufficient energy to cook popcorn.


Cell phone radiation

Since the cellphone became commercially available, the number of cellphone users has increased steadily year-on-year. Internationally, there are at present, over 4.3 billion users. The widespread and regular use of cell phones has raised concerns: does cell phone radiation negatively impact the health of users?

Cell phones operate on electromagnetic radiation. Such radiation is within the frequency range of microwave signals. Microwave radiation is known to cause dielectric heating. Human tissue qualifies as a dielectric material. This means that the tissue on our face will experience a slight increase in temperature when we use a cell phone. However, this increase is minimal and can be controlled by the process of blood circulation.

Some of the radio signals that are by cell phones will be absorbed by the skull. However, cell phones typically do not generate more than 4 watts of power. Thus, the power in a cellphone's signal will probably be sufficient to heat up skin and bone tissue slightly, and will probably not cause any permanent damage.

Scientific Terms

Electromagnetic radiation, microwave signals, dielectric heating, dielectric material, radiowaves


The materials required for this science project are as follows:
- 40 cell phones
- 10 dried corn seeds
- 20 participants


1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the number of cell phones used. The dependent variable is whether or not the corn is popped by the cellphone radiation.. The constants (control variables) are the number of dried corn seeds used, the distance between the corn seeds and the cell phone, and the power of phone signals.

2. 20 participants and 40 cell phones are used. Each participant is to be given 2 cell phones. He/she is to use 1 phone to make a call. The second phone is placed next to the corn seeds.

3. The first test is done using 2 cell phones. The dried corn seeds are placed in the center with the phones and their antennae pointing towards it. The distance between the cell phones and the dried corn seeds is approximately 5cm. Participants will dial the 2 cell phone numbers and allow cell phone to ring for 5 minutes. During that time, observe whether the dried corn seeds cook. The result is recorded in the table below.

4. The test in procedure number 3 is repeated using 5 phones. Then, 10 phones are used concurrently. Later, 15 phones are used. Finally, 20 phones are used concurrently. The cell phones are arranged in a circle around the dried corn. Extra cell phones can be stacked on top of each other. The distance between the dried corn seeds and the cell phones is kept at 5 cm.


The dried corn seeds were not cooked into popcorn, regardless of the number of phones used .

Number of cell phones






State of the corn seeds

Not cooked

Not cooked

Not cooked

Not cooked

Not cooked


The hypothesis holds true: cell phone radiation was not intense enough to cook the dried corn seeds.

Studies have shown that the use of cell phones do not cause cancer or any other health problems to users. However, we are often advised to minimize our exposure to cell phone radiation. Most cell phones come with hands-free devices such as speakers or earplugs. These minimize direct exposure to cell phone radiation.

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