Matthew Tosh’s success at communicating firework science to public and school audiences is being acknowledged internationally this month, as he speaks at the 16th International Symposium on Fireworks (ISF). On Tuesday 25th April, Matthew will talk to representatives from the worldwide firework industry about how he has developed demonstrations and narratives for stage shows to engage and inform audiences.
It’s his second ISF. At the 15th ISF in Bordeaux, overseas colleagues were quick to recognise Matthew’s passion and dedication for engaging with the public. They encouraged him to submit a paper on his work, particularly about his successful STEM education and public engagement.
Matthew will be highlighting the challenges of presenting to different audience abilities and scaling up shows to fill big stages which, if you aren’t careful, can easily reinforce the misconception that fireworks are just about noise and big explosions.
“It’s much more subtle. It’s about showing the public how diverse and detailed this industry is.” says Matthew. “There is a lot of unseen work behind the scenes including research and development, firework and show design, risk assessments, mathematical modelling and meticulous planning. This is long before the first firework is even taken out of its packaging.”
“As an industry with materials that can be lethal if used incorrectly, we have a responsibility to communicate our work to our audiences. And how we communicate effectively and responsibly is an art in itself.”
The former science teacher also aims to raise awareness about firework safety and inspire young people about the creative possibilities with strong STEM skills and qualifications.
Matthew adds “Many careers in the live events and entertainment industries require good science and maths qualifications. It can be easily overlooked when careers advice is being given out to young people.”
The week-long Symposium is being held in Omagari in Northern Japan, the location of several huge firework festivals and celebrations in summer months. It is a gathering of professionals from all over the world to discuss cutting edge firework developments. Presentations will cover the research and development of firework ingredients, safety, transport and firework control technology. It’s also a chance for suppliers and traders to showcase their offerings.
And in case you were wondering… Yes, the Symposium features many firework displays!
Matthew will be providing updates from the 16th ISF via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.