Fireworks Emergency Lesson Mark as Favorite (4 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in Temperature, Gas Laws, Pressure, Atomic Spectra, Redox Reaction, Volume, Electrons, ChemMatters Teaching Resources. Last updated January 29, 2024.


In this lesson, students will learn about electron structure, spectroscopy, gas laws, redox reactions, thermochemistry, and safety through reading the highly rated ChemMatters article, Fireworks! The lesson includes several activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as an emergency lesson plan for a substitute teacher, as most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Describe the two phases of explosions that occur in a firework.
  • Differentiate between luminescent and incandescent light.
  • Indicate how Charles’ law is important to the function of a firework.
  • Explain the relationships between heat, electron movement, the emission of light, and the visual display of color.
  • Provide a brief overview of the role of a pyrotechnic chemist.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Atomic Structure
  • Electrons
  • Atomic Spectra
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Redox Reactions
  • Gas Laws
  • Energy
  • Heat


Teacher Preparation: 5 minutes
Lesson: 60-90 minutes


  • ChemMatters article, Fireworks! (October 2010)
  • Student handouts


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This lesson was originally designed by the ChemMatters Teacher Guide team as a meaningful resource for teachers to use as an emergency lesson plan for a substitute teacher.
  • The lesson includes multiple components, as outlined individually below. The ChemMatters article is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:
    • Anticipation Guide: Anticipation guides help engage students by activating prior knowledge and stimulating student interest before reading. Students should read and respond to each statement before reading the article, then, while they read, students should look for evidence supporting or refuting their initial responses and again respond to each statement.
    • Graphic Organizer: This helps students locate and analyze information from the article. Students should use their own words and not copy entire sentences from the article. Encourage the use of bullet points.
    • Reading Comprehension Questions: These questions are designed to help students read the article (and graphics) carefully. They can help the teacher assess how well students understand the content and help direct the need for follow-up discussions and/or activities. You’ll find the questions ordered in increasing difficulty.
  • Teaching Strategies:
    • Conversation Starters for “Fireworks!” Before students dive into reading the article, it may be helpful to engage students with these questions/tasks:
      • Ask students if they enjoy watching fireworks. Call on a few students to explain why they do or do not enjoy watching fireworks.
      • Ask them to think about fireworks. Ask them to individually write their ideas about the following questions:
  • What do they think is inside a firework?
  • What are the colors and shapes and sounds of a firework that have most impressed them?
  • Sketch their impressions of fireworks.
  • How do they think those effects could be produced?
  • Further Exploration:
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