Quenching the Taste for Fire
Most students are fascinated by explosions. Ms. Thiessen, a science teacher at Garden Valley Collegiate, uses this fascination to 'fuel' her senior 1 (grade 9) science class. For three days during the course of one semester the science class is devoted to pyrotechnics, which is the study of fire.
Should students at the grade 9 level be learning how to create fireworks and bombs in a regular science class? These students learn the skills and requirements needed to make a bomb and basic fireworks. This information is easily accessible from the internet or a library.
According to Thiessen, this is a much safer way for students to learn this information because they learn the safety issues right along with it. Thiessen has added this into her regular curriculum "the students have an appetite for fire and this quenches it" she says. For three days, November 15, 18 and 19, the class is devoted to pyrotechnics. They watch demonstrations, write lab reports and participate in discussions.
During the class the students see demonstrations of different chemicals being burnt to create the different colors used in fireworks, they learn about the chemical reactions involved in creating the sound the fireworks make. This is a typical class in chemical reactions only these students see demonstrations with the chemicals that have the potential to create a bomb, "the chemicals are dangerous but not too dangerous." Ms. Thiessen says that in most classes the students seem to show a maturity level that can handle this type of information.