How to Mimic Polar Bear Insulation

Have you ever wondered how polar bears survive in icy, Arctic temperatures? Follow along with ABC11 Science Club with BASF to discover how animals stay warm with blubber!

Mammals such as polar bears, whales and sea lions all have one thing in common: a layer of blubber. This thick layer of fat provides extra insulation and is crucial to marine mammals' survival in extremely cold temperatures. The blubber is evenly spread over much of their body, just as the shortening used in this activity covers the surface of your hand in a thick layer.

How does this experiment work?
Because shortening is fat, just like blubber, it works perfectly to keep heat in and leave the cold out. Additionally, fats work well for insulation due to high density and low thermal conductivity in relation to water.

Click here to download a PDF of the experiment to print & recreate with your kids at home!

Though you're submerging your hand in extremely cold, icy water - similar to a polar bear in the Arctic - an extra layer of fat helps to maintain a constant body temperature. With the blubber glove, your hand isn't directly exposed to the water, so the fat withstands the cold.

Disclaimer: This experiment requires adult supervision for children under the age of 12. Keep ingredients out of reach of children and pets.

Find us at to share photos and videos of your polar boar insulation experiment! Also, be sure to tune in to ABC11 Science Club with BASF every Wednesday at 4:28 PM!