Before Rhythm and Booms, learn the science of fireworks

July 2, 2010

by Chris Barncard

Before the first rocket lights up the night sky on Saturday (July 3), stake out a seat at the Memorial Union Terrace on campus and learn about the science behind Rhythm and Booms.

Bassam Shakhashiri, a UW chemistry professor, and the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy will demonstrate the chemistry used to create the colors, shapes, light and explosive heat that combine to create fantastic fireworks displays.

The free program's experiments and demonstrations — along with entertainment by Mike Leckrone and the UW Marching Band — will run from 6-7:30 p.m., ending before the show starts over Lake Mendota.

Although fireworks are based on everyday chemistry, they are potentially hazardous and should only be made and set off by trained professionals, Shakhashiri cautions.

Find more information about the chemistry of fireworks online.