Learning about how arctic animals stay warm in temperatures well below freezing is fascinating. This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a very corporeal understanding of how animals like polar bears, penguins, seals, whales, and walruses have adapted to live in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a corporeal understanding of how arctic animals stay warm in some of the harshest conditions.

This winter we curled up on the couch and learned all about the people and animals that live at the poles. Thinking about how Arctic animals stay warm in such frigid conditions is mind-boggling.

Animals such as whales, seals, polar bears, and penguins have developed many adaptations that allow them to thrive in subzero weather. One of those adaptations is a thick layer of blubber underneath their skin that provides insulation and warmth. To show the kids how effective blubber is at keeping an animal warm we did this simple hands-on winter science experiment.

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How Arctic Animals Stay Warm

To do our science experiment we gathered a few supplies:

  • Bowl full of ice water
  • Shortening (like Crisco)
  • Paper towels for easy clean up

First, I had the kids place their bare hands in the ice water. We counted how many seconds they could leave their hands in before it was too uncomfortable. My seven-year-old lasted about 15 seconds while my five-year-old lasted about 10 seconds.

This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a corporeal understanding of how arctic animals stay warm in some of the harshest conditions.

Next, we coated one finger with a thick layer of shortening to simulate blubber. Some animals only have a couple of inches of blubber covering their bodies, while some large whales can have a layer of blubber over a foot thick! It’s no wonder these Arctic animals stay warm!

This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a corporeal understanding of how arctic animals stay warm in some of the harshest conditions.

Once their fingers were covered in shortening the kids immersed them again into the ice water. This time they kept their fingers in the icy water for over a minute, reporting that they couldn’t feel the cold water at all through the fatty layer! They were impressed!

This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a corporeal understanding of how arctic animals stay warm in some of the harshest conditions.

Once they were done they wiped off their hands with a paper towel and then washed with warm water and soap. Clean up was surprisingly a breeze.

More Fun Facts

In addition to reading tons of books about Antarctica and the Arctic, we also watched the BBC production Frozen Planet. Here are a few interesting things we learned:

  • Polar bears live in the Arctic while penguins live in Antarctica. So while we often think of these two animals living in the same place, they actually live half a world a world away from each other!
  • Blubber can also be a source of stored up energy if the animal ever finds itself without an immediate food source. Some whales, for example, only eat for a few months out of the year and then live on their blubber the rest of the year.
  • There is a caterpillar called the banded woolly bear caterpillar that eats frantically during the summer and then freezes solid during the winter. Because the summers are so short in the Arctic it takes up to 14 years for the caterpillar to get big enough to pupate and turn into a moth!

Can’t get enough? Scroll down for 20 awesome penguin activities for kids!

More Winter Science Experiments –>

Thrill the kids by doing a fun winter snow science experiment. Amazing, simple, and surprising snowman science you can do in the comfort of your warm home.
Frozen Bubbles ~ Winter science experiment. Lots of tips and tricks for how to create frozen bubbles.
Play with the snow, but stay warm inside this winter by making snow paint. Experiment with color mixing, create beautiful art, and learn snow science.
A year’s worth of captivating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) activities that will wow the boredom right out of kids!

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 20 More Penguin Activities

This hands-on winter science experiment gives kids a corporeal understanding of how arctic animals stay warm in some of the harshest conditions.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:

Penguin Felt Busy Box // Teach Me Mommy

Penguin Sight Word Game – Editable // Playdough to Plato

How Penguins Stay Warm // Science Kiddo

Penguin Counting Mats // Mom Inspired Life

Penguin Patterning Mats // Fairy Poppins

Penguin Labeling Printable // Letters of Literacy

Penguin Number Words // My Creative Inclusion

Feeding the Sight Word Penguin // Play & Learn Every Day

Penguin Pre-Writing Tracing Cards // Modern Preschool

Baby Penguin Alphabet Letter Matching // Fun with Mama

Penguin Shapes Roll and Graph // The Kindergarten Connection

Penguin Ice Races // Still Playing School

Penguin Rhyming Game // Sara J Creations

How Do I Feel Emotions Chart // Liz’s Early Learning Spot

Penguin Syllable Sort Printable // A Dab of Glue Will Do

Penguin Addition Problem // Recipe for Teaching

Penguin 10 Frame Worksheet // Schooling a Monkey

Penguin Number Puzzles // The STEM Laboratory

Penguin Dice Addition Game // Adventures of Adam

By | 2017-04-22T14:50:26+00:00 January 19th, 2017|Five Minute Science, Science, Winter|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Susan January 24, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Excellent resources thank you. The ‘blubber’ experiment was fascinating. I will try it out on my class of Reception children. Thank you again.

  2. Nancy Ward January 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    This would be such an informative fun experiment to try when teaching any kids about animals anD environment. Love it!

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