How exactly was Rihanna’s show engineered? Think about how they pulled off that finely tuned show at halftime!


Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


How about that SUPER halftime show at the BIG bowl game!





This past weekend presented us with the spectacle that is the Super Bowl. This meticulously managed marvel of entertainment captivates an ever growing audience around the world. This is partially due to the high caliber quality of the Halftime Show. Rather than drawing on the riveting action between the Chiefs’ and Eagles’ teams, we’re going to focus on the team that coordinated and executed the performance above the field. That’s right! Super Bowl LVII through the lens of STEAM.


As we’ve shared countless times in these posts, it’s important to know and name learning moments especially when there’s opportunity for whole family engagement. LVII’s action mostly took place suspended in mid air with Rihanna and her troupe taking to the Y coordinate for a truly unique experience.  


Science – While often embraced as beautiful, the fireworks that lit up the Arizona sky, just like all fireworks, are violent chemical reactions. The colors are defined by what is burning. Copper salts burn blue and magnesium and aluminum give us brilliant whites.  


Technology – From the mixed reality overlays to the lights, and sound synchronization, there are tech driven production solutions a plenty in pulling off such an elaborate show.


GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 12: Rihanna performs during Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)


Engineering – If you didn’t catch it, the majority of the performance was set atop seven suspended platforms which got up to 60 feet up in the air. These weren’t just static, but were manipulated by machines to elevate the awesome. The engineering had to be precise as there were also live performers cavorting about.  


Art – Take away the choreography, set design, costumes, and the sheer power of the performance, you’d still have an artist in Rihanna.  


Math – You get this wrong and the show wouldn’t even get off the ground. Calculating down to every detail is how performances like this happen. Another fun nod to math… how much does 1 minute of halftime show cost to perform? We can estimate ~$1M / minute based on past performances.  


TLDR; It’s easy to sit back and enjoy the Big Game, the food, and root for the team of our choice, but I encourage everyone to take a strategic timeout to think about what it takes to pull together 12 minutes on that level. It’s genuinely a STEAM Masterclass. Think of the teams behind every aspect involved and know and name what skills and passions drive people to get involved to strike all into the 100M+ viewers.


About the Author:

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally-focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.