How do aerial

fireworks work?

Fun facts about fireworks

Americans love fireworks. After the
Continental Congress passed a resolution to
declare independence from England (which
was actually on July 2), the founding
father John Adams wrote that the event
would forever after be commemorated
with “illuminations” across the country.
His prediction has proven correct so far.
Here are just a few fun facts about
America’s favorite way be festive on the
Fourth of July.
• Fireworks are made with gunpowder, so
you’d think we invented firearms before
fireworks. In fact, the reverse is true.
Gunpowder was used for fireworks in
the 10th century in China whereas the
first recorded use of gunpowder for
weapons is from the 11th century.

• Although fireworks have been used in
China for a long time, the aerial shell
that bursts in the sky was invented in
Italy in the 19th century.
• The Walt Disney Company uses more
fireworks than any other organization in
the world. It also is the second largest
purchaser of explosives. Only the
United States Department of Defense
buys more.
This Fourth of July, celebrate the country
with a tradition almost as old as the
country itself: see a fireworks show!

• Blue is the most difficult color to make
in fireworks.

The Declarations of

• Americans have been using fireworks
to commemorate the founding of the
country from the very beginning.
Fireworks displays on the Fourth of July
were recorded before the United States
was even officially the United States, in


The Fourth of July is one of the most important holidays in the United States. For
Americans, it commemorates the colonists’
decision to declare their independence
from the British king and his empire and
found their own nation. Thomas Jefferson,
although he was the third president of the
United States, will perhaps be best remembered for having expressed the colonists’
grievances with the king in one of the most
famous documents in American history, the
Declaration of Independence.
In American lore, we tend to think of Jefferson as having written the Declaration
in a burst of inspiration on the Fourth of
July in 1776. Did you know, however,

that there were in fact several drafts of
the document? Although Jefferson did
the majority of the writing in June of
1776, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin
and other members of the Continental
Congress suggested various changes. Finally, the Congress officially accepted the
document on the fourth of July.
Jefferson had been working on the ideas
that made up the Declaration for some
time, but not all of them made it to the
final draft. Perhaps most famously, a
condemnation of England’s role in the
slave trade was objected to by some
members of the Congress and left out of
the final draft.

Fireworks are an essential part of every
Fourth of July celebration. But do you
know how they actually work? To make
the spectacular effects of aerial fireworks
requires the ingenious use of one ancient
ingredient: gunpowder. Although
gunpowder was traditionally a mixture
of sulphur, charcoal and saltpeter, modern
versions can use a lot of additional
ingredients to produce different effects.
Every aerial firework, however, needs six
• A mortar, a tube of plastic or metal
that contains the initial propulsive
explosion and directs the firework into
the sky.
• A container that holds the main
explosive as it ascends, sometimes made

He called it

from simple things such as paper and
• A lifting charge, which propels the
container from the mortar.
• A fuse that is ignited with the lifting
charge and timed to set off the main
firework in the air.
• A bursting charge in the middle of
the container that is set off by the fuse.
• Stars, small explosives inside the
container that are specially arranged
around the bursting charge and made of
different chemicals to produce different
colors and explosive effects.
Using these simple parts, experts make
the elaborate shows we enjoy every
Independence Day. Different configurations of stars in the container and
different kinds of explosives for the stars
can create all sorts of different effects,
combined and timed to create a dazzling,
rhythmic display.


Did you know that the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, helped
popularize macaroni and cheese in the United States in the early 19th century? Although
Jefferson’s version of mac and cheese was simply fresh pasta covered in butter and Parmesan cheese, today we typically make a pasta casserole with a cheese sauce.
• 1/2 cup bread crumbs
For the cheese sauce:
• 1 tbsp. melted butter
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose
• 3 cups very cold milk
• 1 tsp. mustard powder
• A few dashes of
Worcestershire sauce
• A pinch of nutmeg
• Paprika to taste
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 3 cups shredded
cheddar cheese
For the casserole:
• 16 oz. elbow macaroni
• 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Step 1: Make the cheese sauce
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Whisk in flour until a paste forms and cook for three minutes.
3. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, salt, pepper and paprika (if desired);
cook for two minutes.
4. Slowly whisk in the milk; cook until mixture has thickened and remove from the heat.
5. Whisk cheese into sauce and set aside.
Step 2: Construct the casserole
1. Cook macaroni according to directions on the box.
2. Put the macaroni and cheese sauce in a casserole dish and mix to combine.
3. Mix butter and breadcrumbs.
4. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese and breadcrumb mixture over the pasta
5. Cook in a 400° oven until golden brown on top and heated through (about 20 minutes).
6. Let cool for at least ten minutes and then enjoy!


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