How Do Fireworks Work? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Patrick Zedrow

Patrick has taught intermediate science, language arts, and technology. He has a master's degree in educational technology.

When a soaring firework rocket flies into the sky, it can make a marvelous pattern of colors. How in the world does it do that? This lesson focuses on fireworks, how they are made, and how they create the wonderful displays they do.

What are the Main Parts of a Firework?

Inside every firecracker or rocket that you launch into the air, there is a solid container called a shell that is usually made of some heavy paper. The shell contains many small parts that work together in the sky to create an explosion followed by a show of colors.

One of the main parts inside the shell is called gunpowder. Gunpowder is a powdery black material that is made up of several substances that can burn really fast. They burn so fast that it actually looks like an explosion.

So what causes the firework to launch into the air? More gunpowder! However, this gunpowder is found inside a tightly packed canister inside the shell called a charge. It is packed so tightly that when it is lit on fire, it creates a powerful force that actually lifts it into the air at a fantastic speed!

This diagram shows the different parts of a firework.
This diagram shows the different parts of a firework.

What Happens When a Firework is Lit?

When someone lights a firework, a tiny spark burns along a paper-like fabric string, also called a fuse. This fuse was tested carefully and measured by professionals in order to reach the shell at just the right height in the air. As the spark travels up the fuse, it reaches the charge first, which launches the firework into the air. It continues to burn as it rises into the sky until the spark next reaches the shell.

You know what comes after that! The large amount of powder in the shell burns up quickly, creating a pop or cracking sound.

There is a lot of science behind firework shows.
There is a lot of science behind firework shows.

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