Lots of information about marine mammals has been sneaking its way into our brains, and our last two modules have covered whales, seals, and sea cows. All of these creatures have a layer of blubber under their skin, and this experiment was designed to show its purpose.
We began by putting two rubber gloves on one hand and immersing that hand in a bowl of ice water. We used a stopwatch to clock how long our experimenter could comfortably keep his hand in the water. (1 minute, 23 seconds)
Next, we put one glove on the other hand and covered it with a thick coating of vegetable shortening. You could also use petroleum jelly.
We then covered this disgusting object with another rubber glove. Oh yeah, we had waffles for breakfast that morning.
This hand, with its layer of blubber, was then placed in the ice water to demonstrate the difference a layer of blubber can make for a whale or a walrus swimming in icy waters.
The contrast was apparently very dramatic because as I started the timer, my son said, "Mom, you can go watch a movie if you want."
Science experiements can really stress me out, especially when they don't work, but this one was pure fun and pretty much foolproof. You can do it. Come on, give it a shot.