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Duration:03:56
Uploaded:2016-12-27
Last sync:2018-11-28 10:00
Some animals have a special kind of fat below their skin to stay warm in the chilly months. Follow along with this special experiment to learn more about how blubber works!

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SOURCES:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bring-science-home-animals-stay-warm-with-blubber/
http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/blubber/
https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/blubber-gloves/

Images:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHarp_seal_mother_and_pup.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APacific_Walrus_-_Bull_(8247646168).jpg
(Intro)

When the weather gets chilly, what do you do to keep warm?  Do you put on a sweater or slippers or maybe you bundle up with your favorite blanket?  Well, if you were an animal living way up near the North Pole or down south in Antarctica, you wouldn't have those things to keep you warm.  But then again, you wouldn't need them.  

Recently, we learned how reindeer and caribou stay warm, even though they live in the cold weather of the tundra.  But what about animals that spend most of their time in icy cold water?  These animals have a special adaptation that they use to keep warm.  It's called blubber.  Blubber is a special kind of fat that some animals have right below their skin.  This layer of fat helps keep their body heat in and the cold out.  Animals like seals, whales, and walruses all have blubber.  It allows them to live in some of the coldest waters on the planet.  So do you think blubber would keep you warm?  Would you like to find out?

Well, Squeaks and I aren't seals or walruses, so we don't have any blubber handy, but we can do an experiment with something that's a little bit like blubber: shortening, which is also known as cooking fat.  Shortening is a kind of fat, much like blubber is, so we can use it to see if it'll keep me or at least my hand warm, even when it's dunked in ice cold water.  So I'm going to leave one hand just the way it is and cover the other with shortening.  Then, I'll put both of my hands in ice water to see what happens.  

What do you think will happen, Squeaks?  I think you're right.  I think my bare hand will get really cold and that my hand covered in shortening will stay warm.  If you'd like to join us in our experiment, here are a few things you'll need.  You'll need two large bowls, some water and ice plus two plastic bags large enough for your hands to fit in and of course, you'll need some shortening as well as a big spoon, a towel, and as always, help from a grown up.  Also, make sure to do your experiment in a place where it's okay to make a mess.

First, let's fill the bowl with water, which we've already done, and add some ice to make it nice and cold.  While the water cools down, we're gonna fill one of our plastic bags with shortening.  You'll want to fill your bag about halfway full.  Next, we'll put a second bag inside the one filled with shortening.  That way, you can put your hand in there without getting shortening all over it.  Now that we have this second bag inside, let's flatten them together and squish the shortening around so there's an even layer all around it.  Alright, we did it.  Are you ready to see if blubber can keep your hand warm now?

So we'll have one hand in our blubber bag and we'll leave the other hand bare.  Now put both of your hands in the water at the same time and let's see what happens.  Wow, how does that feel?  Is one hand cooler than the other?  My bare hand is definitely colder than the hand that's covered in shortening.  

So what's happening?  The shortening is acting like blubber.  It's making a layer between the cold water and my hand, and that layer keeps the heat from my hand in the bag to keep me warm.  That's a lot like how blubber keeps animals warm when they're swimming in cold water.  Their special layer of fat helps them keep their body heat inside their bodies to protect them from the extreme cold of icy water.

So now that we know how blubber works, Squeaks and I are going to cuddle up under a warm blanket and read more about animals that live in cold places and maybe we'll find out some more fun facts and share them with you.  

Thanks for joining us for this fun experiment, which was brought to you by our friends at Google.  Thank you, Google making science.  Do you have an idea for an experiment that we can try or are there other animals you'd like to learn more about?  We'd love to hear from you.  Grab a grown up and leave a comment down below or send us an email to kids@scishow.com.  Thanks, and we'll see you next time here at the fort.