Under Pressure: Water Bottle Science Tricks


My girl showed me an awesome trick today: by twisting a nearly-empty water bottle at its middle, you can make the water inside it boil. Watch out for that lid when it pops, not to mention the escaping steam! We recommend trying this outside, and wearing the wrapper like an upcycled wristband. ;)

Two other neat tricks to try:

Take an empty plastic water bottle through airport security before your next flight. They will make you throw it away if there’s any liquid in it, but once you’re through security you can fill it up again. When you’ve finished the water, and while still at cruising altitude, and take off the lid to allow some lower-pressure air inside. Screw the lid back on tightly. The bottle will compress or even collapse as you land into what should be a higher air pressure area. “Mama’s Little Book of Tricks” suggests telling your kids you will crush it with your mind. While they observe the bottle, you’ll observe how quiet they are. You can explain the science later. :)

And here’s one I wrote about on my old blog: how to make a cloud in a bottle. In short, put the lid on a just-emptied water bottle, and set it in a sunny window where the water inside will evaporate. When that’s done, add a bit of smoke from a just-blown out match, then put the lid back on again. Then give it a squeeze and let go. The air pressure inside the bottle will drop and a tiny cloud will form. Or, you may already have a cloud, which will disappear when you apply pressure to the bottle. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Cloud in a Bottle

A haiku for Mary’s Birthday

Here’s to Miss Mary
My little philosopher:
Old soul and young heart.

Today she’s with her dad celebrating her twelfth birthday. In some ways it seems she’s been thirty something since she first learned to talk. In other ways she’s delightfully young, unscathed by society and its expectations.

Twelve terrifies me. I remember how incredibly difficult that year was for me. But Mary is strong.


I know she’ll change. I know teen years are terribly hard. But she will get through. May she continue becoming the wonderful person she’s always been!

(A little speech about life, from nearly half her lifetime ago)


Last night Ethan and Mary started working with the littles on math. We got quite a bit of joy out of hearing the five year old grok questions like these: “So, if there are fifteen oranges in each bag, and you have zero bags, how many oranges do you have?”

And when our eight year old girl, who struggled with math last year, smugly asked, “What if there are seven oranges in each bag, and you don’t know how many bags there are?? How many oranges then?” … it was a glorious thing to see Ethan graph the solution, and watch her eyes grow wide with wonder and understanding.

I’d like to see more of that. So in addition to rebooting pebbles, we are rebooting out old math games as well. The ensuing conversation in this morning’s meeting made me laugh:

Me: “I’d also like to play some math games with you, so math can become easy and fun for you.”

R: “Awee… do we have to do math every second?”

E: “No, not every second. Otherwise you’d be doing math sixty times per minute, and 3,600 times per hour…”

I lol’d.


Responding in Relationships

This morning I read an awesome article about the importance of kindness in relationships. This part in particular struck a chord with me:

How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

Graphing your responses on a quadrant of passive vs. active and constructive vs. destructive, where do your typical interactions lie?


You’d think people who care about each other would avoid actively destructive responses. It happens a lot though, especially if one spouse is jealous or anxious: “You got accepted to your program? How are we going to pay for that!?” Or, “Ugh! Why do you get all the luck? I’m sick of you being happy all the time!” That doesn’t sound like your relationship? Good.

But passivity is a thing too. Consider the silent eye rolls, the averted glances, and refusals to acknowledge each other.

Even being passively supportive isn’t great for relationships, because it’s a bid for connection that gets missed. An “ehhh, that’s nice” is a bit like the emotional equivalent of offering a handshake or a hug, and being given a nod or a wink instead. Think about how that feels!

And we’d think, “I never do that!” But how often are we just too zoned out to even realize our love or even our child is trying to connect?

So what to do instead? What if you are listening but the news doesn’t really excite you that much? Do we have to fake it in order to be actively constructive? No.

Surely it’s possible to find genuine joy in their happiness, isn’t it? How about responding to such attempts to connect with a big hug and a, “You look so happy!”

It’s something to think about. :)

PS: The geek in me sacrificed much by leaving out its convoluted analogies of proper modem handshakes, ACK, etcetera. You’re welcome.