While teaching middle school as well as grade 9 and 10 science, the topic of fireworks always seems to come up when we discuss chemical reactions. Everyone loves fireworks but for many, they truly are works of magic in the sky because the science behind them is so poorly understood. I came across this article which I found informative and a great teaching tool which can be used in most science classrooms. It could be used to encourage debate, discussion as well as inquiry. Please read below and use the information to inspire your students to apply what they learn in the classroom to the world around them.
Sparkling blue flashes. “Ooh!” Cascading streaks of red light. “Aah!” Sizzling green explosions. “Wow!”
For many people in the United States, the Fourth of July means one thing: Fireworks. And they’re not alone.
Viewer satisfaction demands serious science. All year long, researchers such as Conkling mix and burn chemicals in the lab to see what kinds of flames they can create. Now, with advances in technology and chemistry, holiday celebrations are more dazzling and colorful than ever.“Every country, it seems, has a fireworks day,” says John Conkling. He’s a chemist and fireworks researcher at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. “People universally seem to get a deep satisfaction from watching fireworks,” he says.
People have been watching fireworks for more than 2,000 years. “There has been a really dramatic change in the appearance of fireworks,” Conkling says, “from merely being devices that go up into the air and explode to the dramatic color displays we have today.”
At its core, a firework contains a mixture of chemicals that burn well. These mixtures are produced in the form of gumball-sized pellets, which are held inside a cylindrical shell, or cartridge. Gunpowder at the bottom of the cartridge launches and ignites the firework. A special fuse delays the explosion until the cartridge is airborne.
Every type of firework is designed to burn for a certain amount of time in particular colors and patterns. The presence of different chemicals produces different colors.
If Conkling wants to make violet, …….