How can they possibly stay warm out there with those freezing temperatures, icy water, and relentless wind? I’m not talking about my kid in the backyard either. Yep, I’m talking about polar bears! What keeps a polar bear warm when their natural habitat is so harsh? This super simple polar bear blubber science experiment will really help kids feel and see what keeps those big guys (and gals) warm! Simple science helps to shape our kid’s minds!
POLAR BEAR BLUBBER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT FOR WINTER!
Seasons are a terrific time to explore different science concepts and keep the excitement of science alive! Learning about animals and animal habitats is always a favorite of young kids. My son has a special polar bear who is as old as he is.
So next time you want to share something fun with the kids or you are exploring an arctic unit, break out this polar bear blubber science experiment. We will share a few more fun facts with you about how polar bears really keep warm, and this winter science activity is a great hands on way for kids to feel it as well.
PERFECT WINTER SCIENCE FOR KIDS
Read below the activity for a little science behind the chilly fun, and see how polar bears brave the elements in style. Oh, and make sure your kids know that polar bears and penguins don’t hang out together.
You will also find more fun ways to engage in science and STEM all year round but do make sure to check out our ULTIMATE WINTER SCIENCE AND STEM RESOURCE GUIDE its full of ideas no matter what your climate!
If you are looking for more awesome science all year round, scroll down to the bottom to check out all our resources. Learn how easy it is to set up science at home with your kids or find fun new ideas to bring into the classroom.
Some more quick and fun winter science ideas we have enjoyed this week include learning how to make frost on a can, engineering our own snowball launcher for indoor snowball fights, and creating a winter snow storm in a jar!
POLAR BEAR BLUBBER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT SUPPLIES
2 plastic baggies
Food Coloring (optional)
POLAR BEAR BLUBBER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT STEPS
To start off this polar bear blubber science experiment, you need to ask your kids a few questions and get them thinking. You will find some polar bear facts below to help with your questions or to explain your results!
Ask your kids how they think polar bears stay warm when they are swimming around in the icy arctic water. What about them keeps them warm if they don’t wear clothes like us. Nobody is telling them to zip up either!
Once you have worked through a few ideas, you can run some experiments!
- First you need to fill a bowl with ice and water. Add food coloring if desired.
- Next have your kid place his/her hand in the water. It’s cold! There’s no need to linger in the water for safety.
- Now, for the messy part, fill one plastic bag with shortening.
- Have your kids place one hand in another bag and the other hand inside the blubber/fat filled bag.
- Seal the tops with duct tape so water can’t get into the bags
- Make sure to move the fat around so it covers your hand completely. (fun fact: 4″ thickness keeps polar bears toasty)
- Put both bag covered hands in the ice water. What do they notice? The water feels less cold!
POLAR BEAR BLUBBER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT FUN!
If your kids haven’t already guessed by now what keeps polar bears warm, they will surely have a better idea! Blubber or fat keeps them warm. Polar bears are warm blooded mammals like us! What the heck are they doing in the arctic?
Obviously polar bears aren’t covered in cooking lard like Crisco, but they have their own kind of lard or blubber that really helps out. However, there are several factors that work together for maximum heat retention.
Polar bears use a combination of fur and blubber to keep warm. Thick fur and thick fat keep these warm blooded mammals warm in up to -50 degree temps! That’s pretty cold.
They actually have two types of fur. These bears have long and oily hollow hairs that help keep water away but also help trap in heat. The second type of fur consists of short insulating hairs. These hairs keep heat close to the skin.
Oh and did you know that these magnificent creatures with whitish fur, actually have black skin? This also helps to keep polar bears warm by absorbing the sun’s rays.
What’s under the black skin, the blubber of course! The blubber is a thick layer below the skin that can be up to 4.5 inches thick! WOW! It now only helps them stay warm, it also helps to keep them afloat. You can check out this simple buoyancy science experiment to learn more about that!
Blubber is simply stored up fat. It creates a cozy blanket for the polar bear when combined with the different types of fur. It also has another useful property in that it can help provide life sustaining energy when food sources are scarce. Blubber is important to the life of a polar bear!
CHILLY POLAR BEAR BLUBBER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT FOR KIDS!
Sarah and Liam
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