Rubber Blubber Gloves

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In this experiment, learners work in pairs to create two gloves -- one that contains a layer of shortening (blubber) inside, and one that doesn't. By putting both glove-covered hands in a bucket of cold water, learners will find out if the blubber-covered hand feels warmer than the hand without the fat layer. Use this activity to explain how marine mammals live in extremely cold environments. Learners will also discover what it means to have a variable and a control during an experiment.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • 2 small, thick rubber gloves (that slide on and off your hands comfortably)
  • 2 large, thick rubber gloves (that you can comfortably put on and take off over the other gloves)
  • shortening (such as Crisco)
  • rubber spatula
  • duct tape
  • bucket (wide enough so you can put both hands in at once)
  • cold water
  • ice cubes (at least 12)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Ology


  • All rights reserved, American Museum of Natural History,