Kids love fireworks, and Canada Day always promises a spectacular show. While you're watching them explode, your kids might be wondering how they work. Here's a simple explanation you can teach them.
A firework consists of three parts: the shell, the explosive and the "stars," which are the colourful little pellets you see in the sky when the firework explodes.
The standard type of shell used in fireworks is the aerial shell. It's usually spherical or cylindrical in shape, and it holds the explosive material – gunpowder.
Gunpowder is made up of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate. All of these components react with each other to create an explosion when heat is applied.
In order to get the shell up high enough in the sky, it has to be lifted somehow. Usually the shell is mounted on a tube, and another sample of gunpowder is lit at the other end. This rockets the firework into the sky, where it explodes and lights up the star pellets.
But how can you get different colours? Different chemicals will create different coloured fireworks.
- Red: strontium
- Green: barium
- Yellow: sodium
- Blue: copper
- Orange: calcium
Fireworks have different shapes as well. In order to get the desired shape, the star pellets have to be positioned a certain way inside the shell. That way, when the firework explodes, the pellets will shoot out in the pattern that they were packed.
Here are some fun and safe fireworks activities you and your kids can do this Canada Day.
Test out different chemicals in your fire to see what colour the flames become. Just make sure you're done cooking before you start! Get the instructions here: Sky Above Us
A simple chemical reaction will create bubbling and fizzing that looks like fireworks. Get the instructions here: One Time Through
Teach your kids about chemical reactions with this soda snake that shoots off kind of like a firework. Just make sure to put on protective eyewear. Get the instructions here: An Ordinary Life
Learn how fireworks get their colours with these easy and pretty sparklers. Get the instructions here: Science Friday
This craft uses cardboard rolls to create colourful firework paintings. A perfect decoration for your Canada Day celebrations! Get the instructions here: Learning 4 Kids
This chemical reaction activity makes awesome firework designs on coffee filters. Get the instructions here: Toddler Approved
Make this popping firecracker goop with only four simple ingredients. Your kids will love sticking their hands in it! Get the instructions here: Growing A Jeweled Rose
Create these cute little fireworks using salt and glue. You can make them as colourful as you like! Get the instructions here: Busy Mommy Media