Fluids Introduction

We betcha can't name one action that doesn't involve fluids. Eating? Nope. Breathing? Sorry. Swimming? Try again. Flying? That's right: even when we're flying as Superman in our dreams, guess what, we're surrounded by fluids too. We've probably all been told as kids to drink "plenty of fluids" when we're sick or to always check the brake fluid.

Our point is that it's time for the madness to stop. Ready for the scientific definition?

Fluids aren't (only) liquids. Oh, that's not a definition but a preamble. Whatevs. Again, we say that fluids aren't just liquids.

Liquids, on the other hands, are fluids, but so are gases and some solids. Starting to see a pattern here? If we apply a force on a material and something happens, it's a fluid. And what do we mean by something? We might not see anything happen, since the molecules in fluids are so small, but we can still make sense of how fluids act microscopically by exploring how forces change the fluid on a macroscopic scale. In this module, we'll investigate the concepts of forces, density, pressure, buoyancy, hydrostatic equilibrium, fluid dynamics and lots of other nifty little tricks and facts that are bound to impress everyone without exception.

We'll get to learn how the center of an atom operates, the consequences of an apple falling, problems in history dealing with crowns and thieves, bravely diving into the ocean at the mercy of the ocean, lifting heavy cars with very little force, climbing mountains at high altitudes, flying airplanes, and even how our very own Sun will die. Dun dun dun….

Ready? We're about to start a journey that'll take us all the way from the depths of the seas to across the universe. Maybe we'd better find a submarine spaceship.

Fluids Resources


Ted Ed: The Tale of Archimedes
The story of Archimedes, illustrated and narrated, featuring King Hieros, Goldsmith Crook, and Archimedes. Now available for streaming on on demand.

Conceptual Physics: Bed of Nails
We weren't lying. Watch a bare-chested adult male lay down on a bed of nails as Paul Hewitt demonstrates the concepts of pressure, force, and area.

Nasa: The Stellar Diagnostic
Watch the evolution of stars with lots of out-of-this-world pictures and learn about a star's destiny based on its mass.

History Channel: The Wright Brothers
What happens after their first flight on December 17, 1903? Watch the tale of the Wright Brothers, as told on the History Channel.

National Geographic: Puff Daddy
Watch the confrontation between a hungry otter and a blowfish that swells up like a balloon.

Games and Tools

PBS: Matter
Determine matter's destiny by playing around with pressure and temperature.

The Science Channel: The Newtonian Tester
Was Newton right? Test his laws and watch what happens when you push an apple, force a poor worm to pull a gigantic apple, and send a worm into space.

The Discovery Channel: The Fisherman?
Confront the underwater world, test the laws of pressure and buoyancy, and hunt for fish. That last part is optional.


Discovery Magazine: The Titanic's Revenge
Discover how NASA spotted a huge iceberg the size of Manhattan breaking in half.

Science Magazine: Darwin in Action
Through natural selection, Tibetans have developed genes that allow them to function with lower levels of oxygen from living in the Himalayas. Now that's what we call survival of the fittest.

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