One of the things that makes polar bears so successful in the Arctic is their thick layer of fat (around 4 inches!). Some of the books we are reading call it blubber, but technically it’s a specialized type of fat. Seals, however, do have blubber and polar bears love to eat it.
A bear’s fat helps insulate its body and keep it warm. It also helps it float, which is one of the reasons polar bears are such great swimmers. After a trip to the gym (to help get rid of some of my fat) we studied bear fat.
We started off with our fun song and movement activity. I felt a little silly leading a song like this at first. I’ve done lots of things like this in front of groups of kids, but somehow it felt kind of lame in the living room with just my two boys. Fortunately, I got over myself, because they love doing it.
Next up was Face to Face with Polar Bears by Norbert Rosing and Elizabeth Carney. This book is pretty good, but they do call bear fat “blubber.” There was one other little mistake, but I don’t recall what it was. It does go to show that you need more than one reference, even when reading sciency literature. Maybe especially when reading sciencey literature. It did give us a good start to a discussion about double checking sources. And the rest of the book is great.
We talked about how we stay warm when it’s cold outside.
To better understand the blubber situation, we watched this video:[video:youtube:sWc_82cMSiU]
and this video:[video:youtube:Tj02UVIxK-E]
They are both short and a little advanced for my kids, but we talked about them in a way they could understand.
Next we experimented with some fat to see if it really does keep you warm.
We filled a bowl with ice water then put each hand/arm in a plastic bag. Then we put one bagged hand into another bag filled with Crisco. We made sure the hand was totally covered in Crisco and then submerged both hands into the icy Hudson Bay water. The boys got to feel how much warmer the fat hand was. It was kind of gross, but effective. (Sidenote: if anyone needs some Crisco, I have more than half a can that I am willing to donate ;))
Conclusion: fat is good when you live somewhere cold, so go ahead and have another slice of seal blubber this winter. I hear it’s good with a little salt.
BTW: There is a little contest going on over at Polarn O. Pyret’s Facebook page. If you have a minute and could head over there to “like” my post, I’d appreciate it. I’m in a running for a $250 gift certificate. You have to “like” PO.P first, though.