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It's all about the food: Grilling Tips for the Fourth

Explosive educational opportunity on the Fourth

Published: Wednesday, Jul 03, 2002 - 03:03:38 PM CDT

Explosive educational opportunity on the Fourth

Story and images from efg2.com

Take a few minutes to use the fireworks as an opportunity to teach your children something about science.

Fireworks are big, in addition to being beautiful and noisy. The following exercise will help you and your children calculate the actual size of those big bursts of fire in the sky.

Keys to the exercise are range, angle and a simple mathematical calculation.

So build the astrolabe and start your budding Edwin Hubble off on the exploration of science.

How to:

* Count the number of seconds elapsed from the instant you see the light of a firework until you hear the sound. "One thousand one, one thousand two and so on."

* Estimate the angle in degrees as shown in drawing.

Making a simple astrolabe

Since estimating angles is difficult, make a simple astrolabe to measure the angles. You will need the following:

1. six-inch plastic protractor (with hole)

2. plastic drinking straw

3. piece of string or heavy thread about two feet long

4. large paper clip or binder clip for a weight

5. some tape

To make the astrolabe, follow these simple steps:

1. Tape the drinking straw to the straight-edge part of the protractor.

2. Make a loop with the string that passes through the hole in the protractor.

3. Attach the two ends of the string together and to the paper clip weight.

* Take measurements with the astrolabe of both the top and bottom of the firework explosion.

* The difference between the measurements is the angle of the firework.

* Use the math formula below to calculate the size of the fireworks. Just plug your numbers in the space.

size[feet] ~ 20 x time[seconds] x angle[degrees]

Remember the time in seconds times 20 times the angle in degrees gives you an approximate size for the firework burst.

Have fun and enjoy the Fourth.

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