06/30/2016 05:18 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT

Teach Your Kids About The Science Of Fireworks


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.

Fun Firework Activities For Kids