How Does Whale Blubber Work?

Suggested Grades



Students will learn about how whale blubber keeps whales warm in cold temperatures through a demonstration that emulates it.


  • two plastic ziploc baggies
  • shortening
  • a large basin filled with ice and water
  • thermometer


  • Turn one baggie inside out and place it inside the other baggie.
  • Fill shortening into the space that is created between the two baggies and zip it up.
  • Place hand in the middle and plunge the “shortening mitten” into the ice water.
  • Does your hand get cold?
  • Take off the mitten and plunge your bare hands into the water. Is it different?
  • Take a thermometer and measure how cold the ice water is. Record the temperature.
  • Take the thermometer and place it in the middle of the two baggies. Plunge the baggie with the thermometer in the ice water. Record the temperature. Is it warmer or colder with the “shortening mitten”?
  • The shortening acts as blubber does. It is a layer of fat that keeps the cold away from essential parts of the whale so it does not die from the cold temperatures in the oceans.