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Water Bottles, Root Beer, and Air

The common plastic water bottle makes a useful container for demonstrating properties of gases and liquids. As typical examples, we know that “air” is a gas (made up of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, ozone, carbon dioxide, and several “trace” gases) and water is a liquid. We should also note that gases and liquids are both “fluids”. That is, they can flow or change shape, rather than having a fixed shape like a solid.

So what happens when a water bottle is opened? Usually not much. What about with a bottle or can of shaken root beer though? In that case you’re likely to get a messy explosion! The reasons are related to the properties of gases and liquids, especially as expressed through pressure and density.

Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Curriculum Topic Benchmarks: M2.3.13, M3.3.2, M3.3.7, M3.3.14, M4.1.1, M8.3.3, M8.3.5, M8.4.11, S1.3.3, S10.3.7
Subject Keywords: Air, Soft drink, Pressure, Volume, Gas laws

Author(s): Loren White
PUMAS ID: 08_10_07_2
Date Received: 2007-08-10
Date Revised: 2008-02-13
Date Accepted: 2008-02-15

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