Fireworks and Chemistry WebQuest
An Internet WebQuest on Fireworks and Chemistry

created by Hans Figueroa

Introduction | The Task | The Process & Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


Every summer, on the fourth of July, we go out to our local parks to view great displays of light and sometimes music. Fireworks have been around for centuries. Awwing crowds everytime. Fireworks have never been looked at as a science before now. Only as of late have we started to look at fireworks from the scientific point of view.
In this webquest, we are going to discover what the components of a fireworks are? What causes them to explode into all the beautiful colors?
So, let's get started and answer some of these questions.

The Quest

1. Are fireworks scienfic?
2. Why spend so much time studying fireworks?
3. What can still be learned about fireworks?
4. What new thing can fireworks teach us about science?

The Process and Resources

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in class. Each group will answer the questions provided. As a member of the group you will explore Webpages from people all over the world who care about Fireworks and Chemistry. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online Webster dictionary or one in the classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team become experts on one part of the topic.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Use the Internet information linked below to answer the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you answer these questions as fully and insightfully as you can.

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives


1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to to prove your point.

4. Be prepared to focus what you've learned into one main opinion that answers the Big Question based on what you have learned from the links for your role.

Discover components of fireworks

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Discover components of fireworks:

1. What ingredients make up the black powder in fireworks?
2. What are the different parts of a firework and what do they each do?
3. What produces the sort-whistling-sound that occurs when fireworks go off?

  • How Fireworks are Made - This is a site where you can find out what chemicals go into making a firework and what combinations give you the different colors.
  • NOVA Online - In this site you will find a diagram of a firework. You may click on the different parts to learn more about it.

Learn about how fireworks are designed

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Learn about how fireworks are designed:

1. What simple chemical reaction occurs in fireworks?
2. Specifically how is the purity of all the ingredients important to making a great firework?
3. What is a firework?

Explain how different compounds result in different colors

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Explain how different compounds result in different colors:

1. Which three processes cause fireworks to produce light?
2. Which element produces which color?
3. Which elements effect the light and heat given off by a specific firework?
4. How is luminescence produced?

  • Making the Colors - Visit this site and see how the professionals make the colors that explode from the fireworks.
  • Lights and Colours - This site tells you what chemicals create the different colours.
  • The Colors of Fireworks - In this site you will discover the ingredients to make the different colors.

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all learned about a different part of Fireworks and Chemistry. Now group members come back to the larger WebQuest team with expertise gained by searching from one perspective. You must all now answer the Questions as a group. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. from the Webpages you explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the Questions. Your WebQuest team should write out an answers that everyone on the team can live with.

Phase 4 - Real World Feedback

You and your teammates have learned a lot by dividing up into different roles. Now's the time to put your learning into a letter you'll send out for real world feedback. Together you will write a letter that contains opinions, information, and perspectives that you've gained. Here's the process:

1. Begin your letter with a statement of who you are and why you are writing your message to this particular person or organization.

2. Give background information that shows you understand the topic.


3. Each person in your group should write a paragraph that gives two good reasons supporting the group's opinion. Make sure to be specific in both the information (like where you got it from on the Web) and the reasoning (why the information proves your group's point).

4. Have each person on the team proofread the message. Use correct letter format and make sure you have correctly addressed the email message. Use the link below to make contact. Send your message and make sure your teacher gets a copy.

Your Contact is: the designated contact


In this webquest you became even more informed about fireworks and the chemistry behind them. We learned about their components and how they work. We also developed our research skills by looking for the answers to the questions. Where you surprised at all the information you found on fireworks? Are they more complicated than you thought? What other parts of Fireworks and Chemistry could still be explored? Remember, learning never stops.

 created by Filamentality Content by Hans Figueroa,
Last revised Wed Mar 17 12:15:07 US/Pacific 2004