(Animals for ages 4+)
When it is cold outside, how do you keep warm? You probably put on a jacket, long pants, warm socks, and shoes when it is just a little chilly. When it is snowy and very cold, you probably wear a heavy coat, snow pants, boots, gloves, a hat, a scarf, or other things to keep you bundled up and warm.
Humans have lots of different types of clothes to keep us comfortable in different types of weather, but animals don’t wear clothes anytime or in any weather. Some animals, like whales, seals, walruses, and penguins, spend at least part or even their entire lives in icy cold waters. But how do they keep from freezing to death?
Well, they have a special layer of fat, called blubber, that insulates them from the frigid cold. The video above shows a great way of simulating blubber with basic items from your kitchen. Here’s how it’s done:
1 very large bowl OR 2 medium-sized bowls
2 plastic bags (big enough to fit your whole hand inside)
Adult supervision (Adult supervision at all times please)
- Start by filling your 1 large bowl or 2 medium bowls with cold water.
- Add ice to the water to make it even colder.
- Using the large spoon, add some shortening to the plastic bag. Fill the bag half full to 2/3 full of shortening so there will be enough to coat your hand.
- Next, place one of your hands inside the empty plastic bag (like a glove), and then put it inside the bag of shortening.
- Using your free hand, smoosh the shortening and flatten it around your hand inside the bag.
- Now, place both of your hands (one bare and one in the shortening bag) into the ice water (both hands in a big bowl or one hand in each of the medium bowls). What do you notice? Are both of your hands cold? How long do you think you could keep your bare hand in the ice water? Your other hand?
Blubber is thick layer of special fat that animals living in very cold places have to keep them warm. It is not like the fat that people have on their bodies. It is much thicker and has more blood vessels. The shortening is very similar to blubber in how thick it is, so having it covering one of your hands and keeping it warm is kind of like how blubber covers some animals and keeps them warm.