Popcorn Bat Caves

Everyone seems to love popcorn. It has become a mainstay at movie theaters, sporting events, amusement parks, and nearly everywhere else people gather. Although Americans are now such avid consumers of popcorn, and its agricultural history is long, its commercial history is comparatively short. Popcorn was not mentioned in early farm papers and seed trade catalogs until around 1880, but once the American public discovered it, popcorn’s popularity quickly grew.

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Scholars agree that corn, and popcorn, originated in the Americas. Precisely how it originated, however, is a topic of debate. It is believed by many experts that corn was developed by centuries of breeding and crossbreeding wild grasses like teosinte. There has also been much speculation about how popcorn may have been prepared or used by the native Americans, fueled by findings of popcorn in archaeological digs.

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The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 5,600 years old. To help our budding popcorn farmers learn about these caves, we created our very own bat caves that we filled up with corn kernels!

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Preschoolers are natural scientists—curious and full of wonder and questions about their world. They are hands-on investigators who learn as they turn over rocks to examine the bugs living underneath or plant seeds that they water
and watch grow into pumpkins or tomatoes. This is why we aim to create the things we are learning about; direct contact with materials helps children understand them.

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