Playing with fire

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40 hours) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Contributors: Chemists; Pyrotechnics experts

 

Objectives:
“Playing with fire” combines scientific discovery, technical solutions and the art of storytelling. The students learn from an original encounter between chemistry and pyrotechnics. Thanks to the united skills of a chemist and two pyrotechnics experts, they learn the processes to make “Fountains”, “Shooting Stars” and other “Comets”. To conclude this project, the classes plan and put on a display in broad daylight.

Workshops:
Transformation
What reactions, substances and transformations are found in the equipment used by pyrotechnics experts? With the chemist, the students review the knowledge they have acquired: learning the basic principles (understanding proportions, reactions, detonations, friction); understanding the properties of substances (gas, heat, vapour, light); and understanding components and elements (gunpowder and metals, potassium and sodium). To complete this course, the students analyse ordinary fireworks purchased from shops: fuses, powders, paper tubes and lighting mechanisms. The class then begins to devise its own firework display.

Broad Daylight
The second stage of this project starts off with a video. The contributor shows the students a firework display and discusses the principles of artistic design. Special attention is paid to the “plot”: opening, aerial or ground displays, rhythm and, of course, the “final bouquet”. In turn, the students devise their own “plot”, incorporating the imperative of a firework display in broad daylight. What specificities must they take into consideration? How is it different from a night-time firework display? With the technical contributor, the group incorporates a series of constraints: the nature of the terrain, the envisaged duration, the cost of the materials, public safety, etc. The class plans its desired sequence of visual and sound effects: the use of coloured smoke, flashes, explosions, etc. Sketches are made and intentions complied. The group shares out the various responsibilities it needs to assume on the day of the firework display. 

 

Drawings: JACQUES FLORET

Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire
Playing with fire