Science Friday: Arctic Animal Fat



I mentioned in an earlier post that we have a couple friends who are spending time at our house this summer. These two wonderful girls have so much vivaciousness and life packed into them, it is already impossible to imagine what our summer would be like without them! Dull. To say the least.

Anyway, these two cuties will be joining us for Science Fridays some weeks here on Refined + Rugged and this was our first Science Friday as a group of 4 littles + 1 mama. It was SO. MUCH. FUN!

The premise of this experiment is to question how animals stay warm in the arctic where the temperatures are freezing and ice = home. I began this experiment with one of our favorite games. We call it The Animal Game. In short, the person choosing the animals says, “I’m thinking of an animal…” And proceeds to give ONE clue about that animal to get the game started.

In this case, I was THINKING of a Polar Bear, and the kiddos guessed it almost right off the bat. The polar bear was our entrance into a discussion of other arctic animals– arctic hare, arctic fox, ermine, caribou, harp seal, beluga whale, orca, etc. Then I posed the question: How do these animals stay WARM in their frozen environment.

FUR! They all shouted simultaneously. Yes, a thick coat of fur does help some of these animals stay warm in the frigid conditions. What else might keep them warm?

FAT. The answer is fat. So we set about to see how fat keeps these animals warm in arctic home.

Happy Science Friday!

XX, Megan

1. First, I gathered the supplies above. Shortening, disposable gloves, a big bowl, ice, water, and plastic wrap (not pictured).


2. We filled the two bowls with water and ice and gave them a good stir to make sure the water was nice and cold.


3. Everyone got to test their little egos against the COLD water! How LONG can you keep your hand in the ice without protection?!? This one above, a smile for every challenge!


She swore she was going to make it to 200!!! We counted to 31 and then I called it good. She would have kept going!


Look at the determination in those eyes. She told us up front she was counting to 20 and she did!


This little fellow would barely put his finger tips in the water. He just kept yelling about how cold it was! See his hilarious reaction below!




“But it’s just. too. cold!” Not a fan of the cold water. I had to hide my laughter. Just a little dramatic, don’t you think?DSC_0070

Then everyone had to play in the ice water just a little more for good measure. We discussed how COLD the water was, how COLD it must be to live on an arctic ice sheet, and how COLD temperatures in the arctic can really reach– negative 50 degrees celsius!


4. Each kiddo put on a disposable glove.


5. Then I had them make a fist with their hand in the glove. We covered the fist in the glove in a BIG ball of shortening. Like REALLY covered the entire hand.


6. Immediately after I put the shortening over their fist, I covered each shortening covered hand in plastic wrap. No sense in having big chunks of fat floating in your ice, right?! Don’t you just love the difference in the two poses with their fat fists! Killing me.


7. Everyone got to stick their hand into the ice again. This time they had the protection of the glove, the fat, and the plastic wrap. “I don’t even feel the cold, Mom.” He declared.


8. Finished! The amount of time each child could or would put their hand in the water was MUCH increased. We counted to 60 with my oldest son, and then talked about how fat is an important bodily component of arctic animals! Fat is their insulator. Fat (along with fur), keeps them warm!

Then we played in the water some more with our fat fists. Clean-up on this one was SUPER easy. Just pull off the glove from the wrist down. The entire ball of fat should just slip off into a trash bag. ALL DONE!


*The experiment we tried this week was one I got from a preschool site, HERE. I’ve gotten several more questions about where I get my projects from. I get most of my DIY projects from Kiwi Crate. They have a fabulous Science Project section under the DIY tab on their site, and all of the projects there are FREE!

You may have also heard about Kiwi Crate on my site because we also subscribe to their Crate, and receive a box of arts, crafts, experiments, and MORE, monthly. While I’ve posted some activities we’ve done with our Kiwi Crates here on the blog, most of the Science Friday posts are DIY. I also like to pull from random places all over the internet, so for example we did a “Walking on Eggs” Science Friday last summer, and I got the info for that project from a totally different website.

We may recreate that experiment again this summer for the blog, so stay tuned. Let me know if you have an other questions, I’m happy to share experiences and advice. But for the most part, the projects we do here are straightforward, and very easy to recreate in your own home!

The other place you can go to get Science Friday ideas is HERE! Right here on Refined + Rugged. I post our experiment almost every week, and if you want to look at past projects you can simply type “science” into the Search box on my sidebar. That should pull up all of the projects I’ve posted here!

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