As mentioned earlier, the younger Free-Ride offspring's first grade class is learning about states of matter. We continue to get reports back about the content of these lessons, and then the sprogs set about trying to extend them ... in ways that suit their aesthetics more than their parents' aesthetics.
Younger offspring: Today we poured water in lots of different containers, and the water always was in the same shape as the container.
Dr. Free-Ride: And you did this because ... ?
Younger offspring: We were seeing that liquids can change their shapes depending on the container. Solids don't do that. If I pour a marker from a cup to a bowl, it still has the shape of a marker. And if I pour it from the bowl onto the table, it still has the shape of a marker. That's because a marker is solid, not liquid.
Dr. Free-Ride: It sounds like you're ready to teach this lesson, huh?
Younger offspring: I was paying attention.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: What else did you do in science class?
Younger offspring: We sprinkled some powder into water, then put a balloon over the top of the bottle where the powder and the water were, but the balloon didn't go on right so we had to try it again.
Elder offspring: I don't think that was water.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Me either.
Elder offspring: I think you were adding baking soda to vinegar.
Dr. Free-Ride: Did it fizz a lot when you mixed them?
Younger offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: And what was the balloon supposed to do?
Younger offspring: It was supposed to collect the gas.
Elder offspring: The gas comes from a chemical reaction between the vinegar and the baking soda. They make ... uh ...
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Carbon dioxide.
Elder offspring: Yeah, carbon dioxide.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, if the idea was for the gas to fill the balloon, do you think a gas in a container is more like a solid or a liquid?
Younger offspring: I think ... more like a liquid. It doesn't keep one shape like a solid. It takes the shape of the balloon.
Dr. Free-Ride: Actually, it kind of changes the shape of the balloon, doesn't it? The gas keeps expanding as far as the balloon will stretch.
Elder offspring: If you put too much gas into the balloon, it might pop.
Dr. Free-Ride: That's true. So, what phase of matter is the balloon?
Younger offspring: Hmm. If you put it in a bowl or put it on the table, it keeps the same shape. So it's a solid.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yup.
Elder offspring: A stretchy solid.
Dr. Free-Ride: That's also true. You know solids can break. There's only so far the balloon can stretch before it will break.
Younger offspring: You can put gases in containers that are made of liquid, too.
Dr. Free-Ride: Really? Aren't liquids too busy taking the shapes of their containers to be good containers?
Both offspring: (in unison) Bubbles!
Dr. Free-Ride: Ahh, you're right! Of course, those soap bubbles don't last long. The liquid has a hard time staying in that sphere for very long, so it pops. There's some interesting stuff there about what liquids are like at surfaces --
Younger offspring: I've been practicing my spit bubbles. I want to make them good enough so they could be carried by the wind like soap bubbles.
Elder offspring: Yeah, that would be cool!
Dr. Free-Ride: You don't think it would be kind of gross? If I saw a spit bubble floating by, my first reaction would be, "Ew!"
Younger offspring: It wouldn't be gross. It's just a bubble.
Elder offspring: And you wouldn't need a bottle of soap solution or a bubble wand. You could make them wherever you go.
Dr. Free-Ride: But eventually, that bubble's going to pop. And if it pops on someone's face, how is that significantly different from spitting on them?
Younger offspring: They wouldn't know that it was a spit bubbled. They'd think it was just a soap bubble.
Dr. Free-Ride: I think most people know the difference between soap and spit.
Younger offspring: No they don't.
Dr. Free-Ride: Child, believe me, if you washed in spit instead of soap, I'd notice.
Elder offspring: If you got really good at spit bubbles, you wouldn't need bubble gum.
Younger offspring: Yeah, and if someone saw the spit bubble floating by and it popped on them, they would think it was a bubble gum bubble.
Dr. Free-Ride: Again, I think people could tell the difference. Even if bubble gum bubbles were routinely carried off by the wind, bubble gum has a pretty distinctive flavor.
Elder offspring: It could be the new "mystery flavor" of bubble gum!
Dr. Free-Ride: See, this is why I no longer chew gum.
It could be the new "mystery flavor" of bubble gum!
Hmm, I think JoAnne Rowling missed the boat on that. Bertie Bott's Every-Flavored Gum!
I remember that game, "Let's gross our parents out." Lots of fun.
Now rubber, whether neoprene or latex, is an interesting thing. Interesting in that it shows traits both of the solid and the liquid. Then again, solids will flow if placed under enough pressure for enough time. While liquids will act as solids under the right conditions. As seen when a human body impacts a body of water after falling a thousand feet or so. Really complicates explaining the world to young kids.
Now imagine explaining how gases work in the Emberverse (Dies the Fire et al by SM Stirling). Either gasses are infinitely compressible, or they are extremely compressible and good at quantum tunnelling, because explosions are impossible in the Emberverse. (I suspect Steve (the "S" in "SM Stirling") has no idea as to how it works.)
Hope you all continue to have fun with this world of ours. :D