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Put the Boom Back into your Room

written by: chemteacher • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/2/2012

Chemistry teachers can use an online fireworks video from TeacherTube to capture student interest while you teach electron configuration. A video question and answer sheet are provided in this article.

  • slide 1 of 2

    Before the Video

    Teaching electron configuration and Bohr's Model can be boring for students, if we're honest. I used to keep the fun labs with the flame tests and high-voltage gases for the end of the unit, but I found that spreading it out over the whole unit captures interest and provides a reference point throughout your study of electron placement and behavior.

    For example, I now start my unit on electron configurations with an evaporating dish partially filled with ethanol and copper (II) chloride. I turn out the lights in the room and light the alcohol. Soon enough, the flame will glow blue-green and the students are thrilled. After the flame dies out, I ask the students where they have seen this before (some have put copper in campfires) and why they think the fire burns with a colored flame.

    Most likely students will not know why the flame was colored. That's the point. Use that as an enticement for what is to come...in this unit we will discover why the flame is colored. As you teach electron configurations and Bohr's Model bring the conversation back around to the opening demo and it will help students make connections as they learn.

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    The Video

    I show students another application of electron behavior after we have completed the unit. NOVA has a good video on Fireworks, but it is lengthy and it requires that you secure a copy. An alternative is to use a video posted on TeacherTube. This Fireworks Video is an example of the quality and educational value the website has to offer.

    Here are some questions you may print off and have students answer as they view the video:

    1. What is the basis of all fireworks?

    A: Gunpowder is the basis of all fireworks.

    2. How can we change the color of a firework?

    A: Adding a metal salt changes the color.

    3.What change does adding metal powder to a firework make?

    A: It adds sparks and a flittering effect.

    4. What are whistlers and screamers?

    A. They are noises from different fireworks.

    5. How is flash powder different than gunpowder?

    A: Flash powder is more violent.

    6. What color and noise did the scientists predict for the dissected firework?

    A: They predicted that red stars would be followed by whistles.

    7. Were the scientists correct in their prediction?

    A: Yes

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