STEAM Saturday – Polar Bear Mitten! (1/13/2024)

Polar Bear Mitten

Polar Bear MittenWith temperatures getting ready to drop next week and the possibility of snow on the way, we’ve got winter on our minds. This is a great time to talk to your future biologists about how animals can adapt to survive in extreme climates. Today, we’re going to be looking at how polar bears are able to live in places with arctic conditions.

Polar bears have a layer of fat, or blubber, under their skin that helps to keep them insulated from the cold. Let’s do an experiment to demonstrate how the blubber keeps the polar bears warm! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Shortening or lard (think Crisco)
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Strong, thick, waterproof tape
  • A large bucket with water
  • Ice

Polar Bear MittenLet’s make a “blubber mitten” so your child can feel for themselves how fat helps to keep a polar bear warm! First, fill one of your plastic bags about ¾ of the way with lard/shortening. Then, put your hand inside a second plastic bag and insert the bag into the first bag so that the lard surrounds the inner bag. Make sure no shortening gets into the inner bag. Leave a little bit of the second (inner) bag sticking out of the top.

Fold the top of the inner bag over the top of the outer bag, then use your strong, waterproof tape to seal around the top, making sure no lard/shortening can escape. Feel free to apply multiple layers if needed. Now you have a polar bear mitten!

Start by showing your child the “blubber” and explain how polar bears have fat. Spend some time discussing how the polar bear’s fat helps to keep it warm, and ask your child how he or she thinks the polar bear mitten will protect their hand from ice water.

Add ice water to your bucket. Make sure to leave some ice in there as a visual representation of how cold the water is. Have your child dip one hand into the ice water for a few seconds and describe how it feels. Then, have them put the polar bear mitten on the other hand and dip the hand in the water. How does it feel different than the bare hand? How long can he or she keep the mittened hand in the water as compared to the bare hand?

This is a great, hands-on way for your child to learn about animal adaptations!

Check out the full experiment from Hands On Teaching Ideas HERE!

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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