By the early 1800′s, celebrating America’s birthday on the Fourth of July with parades, picnics, patriotic speeches, band concerts, and fireworks had become an established tradition. But even long before Francis Scott Key wrote of seeing “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” people were amazed by the sights and sounds of fireworks. The ancient Chinese used fireworks at festivities and to frighten enemies in battle. Fireworks became known in Europe during the 1300s, probably after returning Crusaders brought them home from the East. Captain John Smith of Jamestown, Virginia, set off fireworks in 1608 to impress the native Indians. Today, fireworks are just as awesome and entertaining as they’ve always been.
Want to learn more about fireworks? Check out the links below.
The complete companion website to Nova’s “Fireworks!” contains additional resources and a teacher’s guide.
Click here to explore Idaho Public Television’s page of fun fireworks facts for kids, and then click here to watch Idaho Public Television’s “Dialogue for Kids” on how fireworks are made (about 28 minutes long; runs in Windows Media Player).
Chemistry of Fireworks – Learn how fireworks get their colors. Fascinating science unit!
Careers 101 – Pyrotechnician – A pyrotechnician is an individual responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnics (fireworks).
Glossary of Pyrotechnics – Fireworks terminology, a long list with definitions.