As they mentioned in this video surface tension can be seen as a trampoline. It is a thin film of fabric that stretches out holding the sides as well as can hold a force on top. I like this example since you can think of it when you are jumping on a trampoline.
What is cool about their research is that they took sand which does not not have electrostatic interactions like water and made them behave in a similar fashion to water by creating an ordered pattern called spinoidal decomposition making inelastic energy of the particles bashing together after shaking (not sure if I got all that right).
Emergent Surface Tension in Vibrated, Non-Cohesive Granular Media Clewett et al. (2013) Phys Rev. Letters