Question Sheet: Bang, Sparkle, Burst, and Boom


Before reading:

  1. In the United States, why do you think fireworks are associated with the Fourth of July? See State Patrol). 
  2. Why are fireworks dangerous? See (National Council on Fireworks Safety).

During reading:

  1. Why don’t fireworks explode as soon as they are lit? 
  2. What compounds do scientists use to produce yellow fireworks? green fireworks? blue fireworks? 
  3. What does Conkling mean when he says that, for patterned fireworks, “the biggest challenge is to get them oriented”? 
  4. What roles do computers now play in large fireworks displays? 
  5. Why do many people end up in the hospital because of fireworks? See (Texas Fireworks Safety) or (Medical College of Wisconsin).

After reading:

  1. What kinds of fireworks would you like to see that don’t exist yet? Do you think that scientists could create these new fireworks? Why or why not? 
  2. Pick one of the following color-producing chemicals: sodium carbonate, barium nitrate, magnesium, strontium nitrate, or copper carbonate. Find out as much as you can about the chemical, including its formula and uses. Use chemistry books or the Internet. See, for example, Monster). 
  3. Pick a piece of music that you think could go along with a fireworks display. Explain why it would be suitable. 
  4. Fireworks can be very dangerous. In many states, they are illegal. Do you think that is a good law? Should more fireworks be available for people to buy? Come up with three reasons why they should be more widely available and three reasons why they should not. See (Honolulu Star-Bulletin).


  1. When were fireworks first produced? Where? See Fireworks). 
  2. The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is just one celebration in the United States that calls for fireworks displays. Other countries also have holidays that feature fireworks. Name one such holiday and describe what is being celebrated. See, for example, (Learning Haven Group).


  1. Conkling says he likes working with fireworks. “I get a bangout of it,” he says. Such a joke with language is called a pun. Come up with five sentences about fireworks that each includes a “pun.” 
  2. Write a brief account of an experience that you had viewing a fireworks display. How long did the display last? Which fireworks did you like? Was there enough variety? Were patterns used? Did this display appear to use some of the technology mentioned in this article?


You’re given the three numbers 1, 2, and 4. How would you combine them in an equation, involving some combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or a power, to equal 12? See (ThinkFun).