None of these things were explained in science class. It was like, "here are the rules of physics, but water behaves differently, and don't forget to hydrate before gym class".
Today George Reiter at the University of Houston may have answered some these questions related to water and life. They took tiny amounts of water and confined them to very small spaces in carbon nano-tubes that approximate the confines in cellular membranes. When they performed measurements, they found the confined water to have gone into a different quantum state, with more kinetic energy than expected, thus providing an energy boost to the engine of life.
There is even something in this for the religious, as water plays an important role in the first acts of Genesis. "Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."