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Blubber gloves

Activity Blubber Gloves Hero NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Imagine what it would be like to live in a really cold place like the Arctic? Brrrr! How would you keep yourself warm? Your mission is to pretend to be an animal in the Arctic and find out whether a layer of fat can really keep out the cold.

Ages 8+

(adult supervision)

15 minutes

Animals like walrus and polar bears can’t wear warm clothes so they grow a thick layer of fat, or blubber, to keep out the cold. Imagine you are one of them and follow the steps below. Be aware: this will get messy!

There are two ways of doing the experiment.

Activity steps - the messy way

  1. Fill a large container with lots of ice and water.
  2. Put one hand in the cold water and time how long you can keep it there before the cold becomes unbearable.
  3. Make a note of the time you lasted.
  4. Now smear your hand with lots of fat and repeat the experiment, timing how long you can keep your fatty hand in the water.
  5. Compare the two times.

Activity steps - the clean way

  1. Fill a large container with lots of ice and water.
  2. Put one hand in the cold water and time how long you can keep it there before the cold becomes unbearable.
  3. Fill one of the bags or gloves two thirds full with fat.
  4. Put one of your hands in the other bag or glove then push it into the fat filled-bag or glove. Hey presto! A blubber glove.
  5. Roll the ends of the bags or gloves together and seal with tape to stop any fat escaping.
  6. Put your blubber glove in your freezing cold water and compare times as before.

Safety guidance

  • Check that any fat being used is culturally appropriate and will not trigger any allergies.
  • Do not hold your hand in the water for more than one minute. Take your hand out of the water if it starts to feel painful.

Brought to you by

Frozen Oceans Geography 11 14 Thumb

Geography | Ages 11 - 14

Frozen Oceans

The Frozen Oceans Geography resources are designed to take 11-14-year-olds on a journey to the Arctic following the expedition team on the 2011 Catlin Arctic Survey.

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