Science Mom's Guide to Water, Part 1

  • Jenny Ballif
  • Dec 14, 2016

Water is so abundant, we often take for granted how remarkable and unusual it is. Water is the only substance on our planet that can exist naturally in all three states of matter: as a solid, a liquid, and a gas.

Cartoon depiction of water as a solid, liquid, and a gas.

Gaseous water, or water vapor, is invisible. There’s always some of it in the air around us and we call it humidity. The more water vapor in the air, the more humid it is.

The only other things on earth that come close to existing in all three states of matter are mercury, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide. And while all three states of matter are possible with each of these, they don’t occur naturally. Water, on the other hand? It’s everywhere. Just look at this view of our world:

View of Pacific Ocean.

Oceans cover most of the earth’s surface, and so does another layer of water: clouds. At any given moment between 60 to 70% of the planet is under cloud cover. But as impressive as those facts are, they aren’t the only unique things about water. Water has seven other incredible properties:

Water's properties of cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension.
Cartoon depiction of water being universal solvent and having a high specific heat.
Cartoon depiction of water having capillary action and ice being less dense than liquid water.

Not only are these attributes of water essential for life on earth—they’re the key to a lot of fun investigations and science experiments. So join me for SCIENCE MOM’S GUIDE TO WATER, where we learn about the incredible chemistry of water through hands-on activities.

In our first video and guide we use three fun investigations to explore cohesion—the ability of water molecules to stick to each other.

You can preview the accompanying guide by scrolling through the pages in the viewer below. To print your own copy, just select your preferred size of paper: 8½ × 11, 11 × 17, A3 or A4. Don’t forget to print “Actual size.” Do not print “Fit to page” or the book won’t come out right. To fold the book, either print the two-page document double sided and follow the instructions on the back, or check my video: How to Fold A Book from One Piece of Paper.

And join us next time for Science Mom’s Guide to Water, Part 2, where we investigate surface tension.

Author's profile picture

Jenny Ballif

Jenny Ballif has worked as a molecular biologist and a wild land firefighter, and at several jobs that fall in between wearing a lab coat and wielding a chainsaw. She is the mother of three kids, wife of one mathematician, and author of several books.