Kaboom! Oooh! Aahh! The golden sparkles explode
and float down the darkened sky, thrilling
everyone watching below. Every Fourth of July,
millions of Americans go to local parks to
watch exciting fireworks presentations. Fireworks
have been a familiar part of celebrations for
centuries. For most of that time, the designing
of fireworks was a craft. Only recently have
people begun to try and understand the science
involved in creating the spectacular fireworks
displays we all enjoy. What are the component
parts of fireworks? What chemical compounds
cause fireworks to explode? What chemical compounds
are responsible for the colors of fireworks?
In this WebQuest you will explore the chemistry
of fireworks and answer some of these questions.
Your job in this WebQuest is to discover the
component parts of fireworks, and to identify
the chemical compounds that are responsible
for the brilliant colors that light up the
sky as fireworks explode. You will explore
the history of fireworks and find out when
the first fireworks were invented. You will
learn about firework design and how fireworks
are built. You will also find out what chemical
compounds are responsible for the colors seen
in fireworks. Finally, you will answer a set
of questions about fireworks to demonstrate
what you have learned about the chemistry of
Look at the web sites given here to find the
information that will enable you to answer
questions about the chemistry of fireworks.
Where did fireworks begin?
Colors. Visit this site to learn
how professionals create the colors that
appear during the vibrant displays of
and Colours. Go to this
site to see what chemicals create the
colors of firesworks. Before the 19th century,
only the colors white, yellow, and orange
were possible in fireworks. When did
the colors red, green, blue, and purple
become possible in fireworks?
Fireworks are Made. At this site
you can find out what chemical compounds
create the colors of modern fireworks.
Online: Kaboom! Go to this site
for a diagram of the parts of a modern
firework. Each part of the diagram has
an active label. Click on each label
to learn more about that part of the
Chemistry of Fireworks. Visit
this site to learn more about the chemical
reactions in fireworks. Find out what
two types of binders are used in fireworks
1 class period for research and answering
the set of questions
Read through the following set of questions
before you begin your Internet research. As
you explore each site, look for answers to
Questions about the Chemistry of Fireworks
- What exactly is a firework?
- Where and when were the first fireworks
- Who were the first Europeans to master
- What type of simple chemical reaction occurs
- What are the components of black powder?
What are the ratios of these components?
- What three processes cause fireworks to
- What types of elements are responsible
for the colors of fireworks?
- What is responsible for the whistling sound
that often accompanies fireworks?
- What are the component parts of modern
fireworks? What does each part do?
- Create a table that lists the chemical
compounds that create the following colors
of fireworks: blue, turquoise, yellow, pink,
red, brilliant red, green, bright green,
purple, white. You may use chemical formulas
rather than common names of compounds in
In the process of completing this WebQuest,
you've become informed about the chemistry
behind fireworks, the chemical compounds that
are responsible for the brilliant colors seen
in fireworks, and about the component parts
of modern fireworks. You have also learned
a little about the history of fireworks. You
have developed research skills as you explored
the web sites given, and identified the relevant
information to answer the set of questions
above. Did you know that certain chemical compounds
produced colors when they are burned? Were
you surprised to discover how complex modern
fireworks are? Can you see why fireworks can
be dangerous for those who don't understand
how they work?