Unit on Fireworks by Gerald Wasserman and Thomas Witkowski


  1. To stimulate critical thinking.
  2. To demonstrate how science influences politics and art.
  3. To explain the chemistry of fireworks.

Based on a 50-minute class period.

Day 1

Fire Writing


Wood splints, matches, porous paper, 100 mL of saturated potassium nitrate (KNO3) solution, tape.


  1. Dip a splint into the solution and write a continuous message on the paper. Trace it three times. Allow the paper to dry.
  2. Tape the treated paper flush to the blackboard. Touch a glowing splint or lit match to the message. [It glows & sparkles.]
  3. Tape an untreated paper flush to the blackboard. Try to light it near the center with a glowing splint or lit match. [It may become charred but won’t light.]






Day 2

Video "Fireworks" from NOVA

  1. One page article on the history of fireworks.
  2. Poem about the beauty of fireworks.
  3. One page report on how fireworks affect your emotions.

Day 3

Day 4, part 1

Day 4, part 2

Day 5, part 1

First part of class period.

Written assessment:

Day 5, part 2

Extra credit assignment.