• Large, clear glass bowl
    • Water
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • Paper cup
    • Food coloring (red, blue, and green)
    • Spoon

    Fill the bowl with water. Pour the cooking oil into the paper cup. Add four drops of each food coloring color. Mix the oil and colors thoroughly with the spoon. Pour the colored oil mixture into the water in the bowl. Observe for ten minutes.

    Small pools of oil spotted with tiny spheres of color float to the surface of the water, exploding outward and creating flat circles of color on the surface of the water. Long streamers of color then sink down through the water, like a fireworks display.

    Oil and water are immiscible—meaning they do not mix, but separate into layers because of the different polarity of their molecules. The oil rises to the surface because it is less dense than the water. Since the water-based food coloring does not dissolve in oil, it remains in tiny spheres throughout the oil on the waters surface, and then sinks through the oil layer and dissolves in the water below, creating long streamers of color.


    • In the tenth century, the Chinese discovered that three common kitchen ingredients—saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal—were explosive when combined. When packed into a bamboo tube and ignited, the mixture rocketed skyward and exploded, lighting up the sky.
    • In fireworks, sodium compounds produce yellow light, strontium and lithium salts emit red light, copper gives blue light, and barium creates green light.
    • In 1988, the world's longest fireworks display—measuring 18,777 feet long, consisting of 3,338,777 firecrackers and 1,468 pounds of gunpowder—was ignited in Johor, Malaysia, and burned for nine hours and 27 minutes.
    • On July 15, 1988, the world's largest firework—weighing 1,543 pounds and measuring 1,354.7 inches in diameter—was exploded over Hokkaido, Japan, bursting to a diameter of 3,937 feet.

    On the third Monday in April, the citizens of Zurich, Switzerland, stuff the Böögg, an enormous cotton-wool snowman, with fireworks, mount it to a pole amid a pyre of brushwood, and ignite the bonfire. Rides on horses circle the fire until the fireworks blow the Böögg to bits.

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WARNING: A responsible adult should supervise any young reader who conducts these experiments to avoid potential dangers and injuries. The author has conducted every experiment and has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the experiments are safe when conducted as instructed; however, the author does not assume any liability for damage caused or injury sustained from conducting these projects.

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