The Science of Freedom

Summer B is here!! It’s astonishing to me that we’ve only been here for six weeks … seven if you count orientation because I already feel so comfortable and connected with our cohort.  I’m sad to see 487 go, but also really excited to see where 486 takes us.  The first project seems like it’s going to be very beneficial, especially for camp and for all of our future classrooms, which is a scary but exhilarating thought considering how fast time is going.  I guess everything is falling in line with a quote another professor of mine recently said to our class, “Don’t save time, lose it.”

Anyway, today’s the fourth of July and a day that I always look forward to in the summer because it means my boat, a beach barbecue, the ocean, and fireworks … usually.  This year, despite my trip home, Hurricane Arthur has laid down the meteorological law and said “no beach, no boats, and no fireworks; I’m going to rain and thunder all day instead.”  So, instead of getting a little sunburnt and watching Long Island’s finest fireworks from the beach I will have to downgrade to some thunder and lightning as my entertainment.


Ever since I can remember I’ve been pretty obsessed trying to figure out how fireworks work and how you make them bigger and cooler than the ones we have right now.  I guess I assumed it was a process rooted in some unattainable science that I would never really understand.  However, I recently found this video explaining the chemistry of fireworks.  It seems surprisingly basic, compared to what I thought it would be like, and relatively straight forward to anyone with an understanding of simple chemistry.

Here’s the video:

Some things I could especially interesting was that the video says the blue is the hardest color to create and requires the perfect chemistry to produce it.  I never really realized but looking back a majority of fireworks are white, yellow, red, or green. I’ve rarely seen blue or purple ones and when I have they always feel more special … but maybe that’s just me.

Some more information I found really interesting, which was when my initial interest in fireworks really started was with regard to their shape.  From what I’ve read, the shape of a firework has everything to do with the arrangement of the pellets within the outer shell; and often has some involvement of multi-break shells.  Simply, the pellets need to be arranged in the shape within the firework shell but then surrounded on the outside with a break charge and on the inside with explosive charges.  These pellets need to be ignited all at the same time to create the intended shape, otherwise it will just look like a big mess.

Some interactive (but basic) firework shapes:

I wanted to leave you all with the best firework video I could find but there are just way too many to choose from, and I’m biased towards New York or Disney World displays. Besides, I’m sure seeing them live will outdo any video I can supply you.




The Chemistry of Fireworks – Reactions. [Video File]. Retrieved from

HowStuffWorks Field Guide to Aerial Fireworks. (2000). Retrieved from

Brain, Marshall.  (30 June 2000). .How Fireworks Work. Retrieved from

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