How do polar bears stay warm with those freezing temperatures, icy water, and the relentless wind in the Arctic? What keeps a polar bear warm when their natural habitat is so harsh? This super simple polar bear blubber experiment will help kids feel and see what keeps those big guys (and gals) warm! Simple winter science experiments help to shape kid’s minds!
HOW DO POLAR BEARS STAY WARM?
The winter season is 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 toy polar bear who is as old as he is.
So next time you want to share something fun with the kids or if you are exploring an arctic unit, break out this polar bear blubber 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.
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!
Learn what role polar bears have in the food chain.
Also learn how these animals and people stay warm…
POLAR BEAR BLUBBER EXPERIMENT
To start off this experiment, you need to ask your kids a few questions and get them thinking 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. Why don’t polar bears start to freeze in the water?
YOU WILL NEED:
- Large bowl
- Ice Cubes
- 2 plastic baggies
- Duct tape
- Food Coloring (optional)
HOW TO SET UP YOUR BLUBBER EXPERIMENT
STEP 1. First you need to fill a bowl with ice and water. Add blue food coloring if desired.
STEP 2. Next have your kid place his/her hand briefly in the water. It’s cold! There’s no need to linger in the water for safety.
STEP 3. Now, for the messy part, fill one plastic bag with shortening.
STEP 4. 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 of blubber keeps polar bears toasty!
STEP 5. Put the bag covered hands in the ice water. What do they notice? Does the water feel less cold or not?
HOW DO POLAR BEARS STAY WARM?
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?
Learn more about the Arctic with Biomes of the World!
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.
ARE POLAR BEARS BUOYANT?
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!
ALSO CHECK OUT: How Do Whales Stay Warm?
MORE FUN ICY ACTIVITIES
CHILLY POLAR BEAR BLUBBER EXPERIMENT FOR KIDS!
Click on the image below or on the link for more fun and easy winter science activities.