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Firework Fun

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Information retrieval
Topic: Fuels

It's the time of year for fireworks night and in this literacy activity, pupils find out how fireworks work and why they burn so fast. They make and annotate a paper firework model with information about reactions, energy changes and safety. Pupils then use their models to explain firework chemistry and safety to new firework factory workers.

Published: 28th October 2005
Reviews & Comments: 36

Learning objectives

Students will:
- relate their experiences of fireworks to chemical reactions, recognising the need for oxygen in burning and the formation of new substances in reactions
- consider the energy changes that take place when fireworks burn

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

11-14 (KS3)
Chemical reactions [QCA 7f]: burning requires oxygen; new substances are made in reactions; compounds contain more than one type of atom joined together; fuels burn to release energy
Using Chemistry [QCA 9h]: chemical reactions make new products and are a source of energy

Running the activity

This starter or main activity asks pupils to annotate a model firework template using information supplied. They then make the model - sellotape is the least messy way of fixing it. Pupils use the models to explain firework chemistry and safety to new firework factory workers.

Page 1 provides the context and sets the task. It also includes basic information about burning reactions and energy changes. It can be printed onto transparency or projected.

Page 2 gives the chemistry involved in sparklers, firecrackers and aerial fireworks. It can be projected or printed onto transparency or paper.

Page 3 is a template for a firework cut-out model. Construction instructions are included! Each pupil or pair will need their own copy.

This activity could be introduced by burning magnesium, or dropping iron filings into a Bunsen flame.

News links

How Stuff Works - fireworks
Provides useful diagrams and video footage
Science of Fireworks
provides detail relating to the excitation of electrons for colour effects and a list of oxidizers
How Fireworks work
gives a good overview of different types of fireworks

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Firework Fun review

Apr 16th, 2013

5 Star

I could download the teachers notes but not the activity. Sounded like a perfect lesson but unfortunately the link wasn't working.

Reviewer: Faye Donaldson

worked wel

Nov 19th, 2012

4 Star

Reviewer: karen hurst

Firework Fun review

Oct 21st, 2012

5 Star

Very good

Reviewer: Sarfraz Shah

Great idea

Oct 31st, 2011

5 Star

A clear and simple to follow activity to introduce pyrotechnics as a seasonal topic between units. Thanks.

Reviewer: Richard Brown


Nov 15th, 2010

5 Star

The activity on the "Firework Fun" is excellent, a wonderful way to discover and learn chemical reactions. Great idea!! Thanks.

Reviewer: Maria Vincent


Oct 21st, 2010

5 Star

Fantastic quick firework activity. Students absolutely love it

Reviewer: shirley jacob


Sep 4th, 2010

5 Star

I set this activity as part of the 'Chemical Reactions' unit.
It was set as a cover lesson, so the students (Year 7) did it in my absence.
The Cover Supervisor said they enjoyed the activity and they made super firework models. Behaviour was good because they were enjoying themselves.
Great for Yr 7's.

Reviewer: Simone Lively

Firework Fun review

Dec 17th, 2009

5 Star

An engaging activity but pupils easily distracted from the science behind the activity.

Reviewer: Susan Ajetunmobi


Nov 21st, 2009

4 Star

My students thoroughly enjoyed the activity.

Reviewer: Myra Vcitorina


Oct 15th, 2009

4 Star

This is a great lesson pupils really enjoyed it. This lesson helped to reinforce ideas about chemical reactions and dangers, as well asexplaining how fireworks work. The top of the firework is quite difficult to make.

Reviewer: Nicole Killen

Firework Fun review

Jun 16th, 2009

5 Star

Really great for my classes

Reviewer: Kelly Draper

Firework Fun review

Jan 29th, 2009

5 Star

Excellent activity! Pupils thoroughly enjoyed making the rockets and presenting their findings to the group. Thank you!

Reviewer: Hayley Thompson

Firework Fun

Jan 26th, 2009

5 Star

A fantastic activity - I was teaching a class of 12 - 13 year-olds about reactions of metals in air just as we came up to Hallowe'en (which is when we have bonfires and fireworks here in N. Ireland). This activity brought what we had been learning to life - it included exactly the chemical equations we had studied, was relevant and the pupils enjoyed it (so did I!)

Reviewer: Frida Kennedy

year 7 reactions topic

Nov 13th, 2008

4 Star

Great as a starter or a part activity.

Reviewer: Sam Finlan

murder in the park

Jul 10th, 2008

5 Star

A super half an hour activity which I incorparated in 21st century science unit C4. Students really enjoyed it and even less able students showed an interest in chemistry.

Reviewer: susan theis

Firework Fun

May 13th, 2008

5 Star

The model making activity made students focus on the key facts. My year 7 group enjoyed it.
Flame test gave the lesson some colour. Cheers upd8!

Reviewer: john eyre


Mar 18th, 2008

5 Star

I used this activity with my year 9 science class. They loved it. It was great as it tied in two topics we studied - chemistry and forensics.

Reviewer: Yolanda Deal

hot stuff

Mar 21st, 2007

5 Star

What can I say these up to date resources are pionering and a pleasure to teach. My classes are so enthused by all the resource I have used form UPD8

Reviewer: gill mortimer

Firework Fun

Nov 29th, 2006

5 Star

Brill activity. Used this with 2 very mixed ability classes in S2( I think year 9 in England) in the week leading up to 5th Nov. Discussed fireworks safety as an intro. Then made the model firework. Some of the poorer readers did not put a huge amount of information on their firework, but understood exactly what to do. Next lesson we made sparklers using Mg powder and KMnO4. Quite simple . Take a wooden spill, put glue1 /3 of way up on both sides and coat with Mg mixture. (Best done at teachers desk to avoid chance of pupils igniting the mixture) Pupils then light their sparkler. Can be made coloured by addition of metal salts. Risk assessment needed for this. They loved it!!

Reviewer: Barbara Sinclair

Firework Fun

Nov 10th, 2006

5 Star

I used this with a year 8 class and they loved it. Even the pupils who it is virtually impossible to get work form were on task for the entire lesson!!

Reviewer: Alison Maslen

Firework fun

Oct 15th, 2006

5 Star

I used this with a Year 9 class as part of "Using Chemistry". We had previously discussed fireworks as one way in which chemistry is useful to us. The students enjoyed the activity, and then in the next lesson we burned magnesium to see how white light is made in fireworks. We also found out how other colours are produced. I shall use this activity again.

Reviewer: Kate Balfour

Fire woks fun

Jul 10th, 2006

5 Star

I have used it through out a wide ability as it was easy to differentiate. The lesson ended with a poster on fireworks safety. this i will use again.


firework fun

Jun 19th, 2006

4 Star

This is even better if you use Sodium nitrate as an oxidising agent burning filter paper for a little fire writing activity

Reviewer: Gareth Banks

Firework Fun

Jan 7th, 2006

4 Star

I used this activity with my top set Year 9 class as the second lesson in the 'Using Chemistry' unit. Pupils had just done an introductory lesson revising combustion as achemical reaction and this activity was excellent for placing ideas revised during this lesson in a real-life context. The only criticism of the pupils was that they found it very difficult to make the 'cone' shaped head of the model firework.


firework fun

Dec 1st, 2005

5 Star

An excellent acitivity! Very easy to use for me and the kids. They loved it! Got some fantasitic fireworks hanging from the ceiling now!

Reviewer: Huma Malik

Firework Fun

Nov 21st, 2005

4 Star

I used this with bottom set yr 9, who are very hands on pupils who found writing reactions really hard. They loved it!! Plus it really helped with their equations. Will def use this next year!

Reviewer: Gemma Chatterton

Avian Flu

Nov 13th, 2005

4 Star

I used this as a starter activity with a top set KS4 group whilst covering Microbes and Disease. The discussions that developed from this were exciting and stimulating. From the simple spread of virally transmitted disease, the pupils moved on to viral/bacterial mutations, crossing the species barrier and the biotechnology involved in the industrial production of antibodies and antivirals.
The discussion would not have been out of place with a Yr 13 A2 group!

Reviewer: Janet Cruse-Sawyer

celebrating with fireworks

Nov 10th, 2005

5 Star

used this with my year 8 class covering reactions as a homework activity , The science department had just had its new garden and to celebrate we used the results of a competion to design a firework to open the garden with a big bang and with sparklers for the design winners.
It was successful on all counts as an interesting homework, introducing science in the real world and in drawing attention to the new garden. Will use again next year.

Reviewer: christine Williams

Firework Fun

Nov 7th, 2005

4 Star

I used this with 4/4 set Year 9 who are "doing" Chemical Reactions.
We added to the activity with some practical involving burning magnesium and blowing iron filings into a Bunsen burner flame, then did the activity and finished off with commercial sparklers. We accessed some data from RoSPA and then used the lesson to produce a Year 9 Assembly on Firework safety on Friday 4th November.
The pupils really enjoyed the activity and bought into "real science"!

Reviewer: Sheena Wright

Firework Fun

Nov 6th, 2005

4 Star

This is brilliant! Will be using it for my next lesson with Year 9. I will let you know how we get on. Have done a practical making fireworks for science club, but this is perfect for a lesson. Thanks

Reviewer: marjorie skidmore

Firework fun 2/11/05

Nov 5th, 2005

4 Star

I used this with activity with a year 7 mixed ability group combined with talking about the fire triangle. They loved it and came back the next day asking if we were going to make something again. I will definately be using this again!

Reviewer: Tamsin Morrell

Firework Fun

Nov 5th, 2005

4 Star

I used the slides with my year 11's along with discussion about oxidisers and hazard safety warnings. We also did a fun demo with an oxidiser and glycerol. They loved it!! Especially with November the 5th so close.

Reviewer: Donna Taylor

firework fun

Nov 4th, 2005

3 Star

I did this activity in conjunction with watching a video of Adam Hart-Davies and his TVprogramme on "Exploding Heroes"
It was enjoyed and this class were able to pratice balancing equations ( gunpowder and sparklers), reviewed combustion & respiration, elements (what colour makes a firework red ?) and for pot luck energy changes and forces

the paper cutting was a bit fidly - so I would enlarge page 3 to A3 size when I do this next year

It is amazing how their attention can be gained by lighting a sparkler at the start of a lesson

Reviewer: Michele Altham

Firework Fun

Oct 31st, 2005

4 Star

Brilliant activity. Students found it very interesting. Will be using it with Year 9 next week.

Reviewer: khatma bibi

an interesting experience for Ss

Oct 30th, 2005

4 Star

Normally Ss are not allowed to play with fireworks. This impress Ss very much and help to keep links with difficult chemistry concepts.
Good for Ss at various levels.


Reviewer: Alex Wong

Firework Fun

Oct 28th, 2005

4 Star

I used this activity last year and it was a hit with the students.
I will be using it again with my Year 9s


Reviewer: Karen McQuillan