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Put Some “Sizzle” Back Into Science!

Put Some “Sizzle” Back Into Science!  After all of the “sparkling” hustle-and-bustle of the Fourth of July, we had the chance to take a deep breath and relax, which caused our minds to wander a bit. And, as we READILY confessed in a post last week to being “word nerds.” BUT… our “nerdiness” does NOT stop there!

 

As we demonstrated in a few months ago, we find ourselves captivated by history – especially when we started exploring the millennia-long origins and traditions of pyrotechnics. So, it should come as NO surprise that another classroom “favorite” also piques our interest. Yep, we TOTALLY geek-out over the magical and mystical principles behind science!

 

We DO realize not everyone shares our passion for the sciences… which could cause some issues, as more and more parents unexpectedly find themselves responsible for sparking their kids’ interest in educational pursuits! See, if WE had personal negative experiences or memories of a particular school subject, we can unwittingly “transfer” OUR own mental blocks when recreating the classroom experience for our kids. Ergo, if YOU hated history or math or science, then you just might color your CHILD’S opinion of that subject.

So, let’s put some “sizzle” back into science for your child… AND you! As mentioned earlier, we explored the history behind fireworks, which allowed us to barely skim the surface of the actual science of fireworks. Let’s start with our friend, the periodic table from chemistry. WHAT – did we just hear a collective groan?!? Hang in there with us. After all, fireworks are simply chemical reactions. And thanks to the fine scholars at Smithsonian Magazine, we have a primer on this scientific exploration:

 

“A firework requires three key components:

  1. An oxidizer
  2. A fuel
  3. A chemical mixture to produce the color

“The oxidizer breaks apart the chemical bonds in the fuel, releasing all of the energy that’s stored inside those bonds. And, all you need is a bit of fire, in the form of a fuse or a direct flame.

“In the case of those early fireworks, saltpeter was the oxidizing ingredient that drove the reaction, as British scholar Roger Bacon figured out in the EARLY 1200s! Interestingly, Bacon kept his findings a secret, writing them in code to keep them out of the wrong hands.”

 

You can even delve deeper into the chemistry and physics of fireworks, and even create your own (controlled!) experiments with older students. And, for the littlest learners, you can have some fun making your own “simulated” fireworks in a jar – while also working in a little science!

 

Now, here’s a chance to incorporate some art into these science lessons… for all those liberal arts folks! You can even experiment on the most basic level, even by demonstrating what colors emerge by mixing two different colors. After all, the color wheel is even based on the science of the light spectrum – our old friend ROY G. BIV.

And for the more scientific-minded, we head BACK into chemistry lab. Specific elements produce specific colors:

“Firework color concoctions are comprised of different metal elements. When an element burns, its electrons get excited, and it releases energy in the form of light. So, different chemicals burn at different wavelengths of light. Strontium and lithium compounds produce deep reds; copper produces blues; titanium and magnesium burn silver or white; calcium creates an orange color; sodium produces yellow pyrotechnics; and finally, barium burns green. Combining chlorine with barium or copper creates neon green and turquoise flames, respectively. Blue is apparently the most difficult to produce.”

And while the Chinese originally created fireworks, we can thank those Italians, back in the 1830s, for figuring out how to use metallic powders to create these specific, mesmerizing colors. We TOLD you science could be fun! Of course, you need to properly explore (and celebrate!) this newfound knowledge… and, SURPRISE, we’ve got everything you need.

 

Although we KNOW we’re biased, hopefully you’ve discovered some of the fun scientific exploration can offer. Of course,  we’re ALWAYS here to provide some “nerdly” advice and suggestions, to help you and your kids unlock the “sizzle” in science!



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