Fun With Blubber

Okay, so you didn’t know blubber could be fun. Or the thought of playing with lard isn’t appealing. I get it. But this is a great way to demonstrate to your kids how an insulator like blubber works to keep an animal warm. My son has suggested that we make coats out of blubber–but I don’t recommend it.

You will need:

Two ziploc bags. . .gallon size worked well

Lard or shortening

A thermometer (not necessary for little ones but very helpful for doing more ‘scientific’ study)

a bucket of ice water

gorilla tape

other insulators


Fill one bag about half way full with lard or shortening. Turn the other bag inside out and insert into the shortening. Now zip the two bags together and seal with gorilla tape. You should have made a nice cozy ‘mitten’ of sorts.

Observation for Younger Students

Measure the temperature of the ice water. With one hand inside a blubber mitt and one hand outside the blubber mitt, submerge both hands in the water. Have your child write and/or tell about how it feels differently.

Observation for Older Students

For older students make several mitts out of various insulators using the directions above but substituting a chosen insulator for the lard. We used feathers, lard, warm fuzzy towel material, flannel, and a cut up oven mitt. (Yes, it pained me to cut up the oven mitt–but it was all in the name of science.) You need to make sure that your tub of water is large enough to accomodate all of the mitts at once so that the variable of ice water temperature is controlled. We actually used our bathtub filled with cold water and an added bag of ice.

Use several thermometers around the bathtub to get an average reading. For each insulator mitt, insert a thermometer and take a measurement at 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes. Have your student record her observations and figure out which material makes the best insulator against the cold!

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