Arctic Animal Experiment

Arctic Animal (4)

Following up on fun and icy magnetic play, we wanted another way to play with ice indoors. Recent reading about arctic animals such as penguins and seals was the perfect launching off point. I posed the question to Travis: How do arctic animals stay warm in icy water? The answer of course lies in their blubber, the thick layer of fat under their skin. To illustrate this for your child, get messy with this silly experiment!

First, give your child a bowl of water with ice cubes, and encourage them to plunge their hand in – if they dare! Travis cautiously dipped a finger. Brr!

Arctic Animal (1)

I promised him we could keep his hand warm in the icy water with a few simple steps. First add a latex glove. This layer alone won’t do the trick, of course, but we tested just to be sure.

Arctic Animal (2)

Next, dip your child’s glove-covered hand in a big vat of vegetable shortening (if you’re looking for a vegan and organic option, try Spectrum Organics). It will make a huge mess as you get your child’s hand covered front and back in the shortening (let alone take pics in the process!) but we mostly managed. Next time I would wrap the shortening-covered hand in plastic wrap to seal in all the mess.

Arctic Animal (3)

Now it was time to dip in. To be honest, Travis was significantly less impressed than I was, but he did notice that the fat-sealed hand didn’t flinch away from the cold ice cubes. I took a turn after, just to feel the difference.

Yup, here’s mama, just hanging out with her hand in icy water.

Arctic Animal (5)

Truly, you could keep your hand immersed this way for quite some time and not be bothered by the cold. If I’m ever crazy enough to do a polar bear swim, I’ll be layering up in shortening first.

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