1. Begin the lesson by having students answer the following Google Drawing question sheet. Each student has their own box in the drawing.
2. Show students a photo of a penguin or, if possible, a plastic penguin or stuffed toy penguin. Discuss the coloring of the penguin, guiding the discussion to the black side and white side. Ask students, “Why do you think the penguin is black on one side and white on the other?”
3. Watch this video. Then ask students, “How do you think countershading assists the penguin in blending in with its environment?” (Countershading helps penguins blend in with their surroundings in order to hide from both predators and prey. Ask, “When an animal blends in with its environment, what is that called?” Then explain that their white bellies serve as camouflage for underwater predators looking up, and their black backs serve as camouflage for predators looking down.)
Ask one student from each small group to gather the experiment supplies.
Guide the class through the experiment using the following steps:
1. Spoon the shortening into one plastic bag.
2. Turn an additional plastic bag inside out and place it in the bag with the shortening.
3. Zip the two bags together, forming a pocket in the center.
4. Evenly spread the shortening between the bag layers by gently squeezing.
5. Repeat step 3 with the two remaining bags and no shortening.
6. Have a student in each group place one hand inside each bag. Secure each bag onto the student’s hand by placing a rubber band around the opening.
7. Instruct the student to dip both hands into the ice water and determine which hand is kept warmer. (The hand in the “blubber mitt” will feel warmer.)
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7, allowing each group member an opportunity to test the blubber mitts and make observations. Have students record their observations in their science notebooks.
1. Discuss the students’ questions and observations. Ask students, “How did the experiment help you to understand how blubber helps a penguin survive in cold environments?” Have them record their response to this question in their science notebooks.
2. Explain that being able to adapt to their environment is important for animal survival. An adaptation is any characteristic of an organism that helps it survive and reproduce in its environment. The better an animal adapts to its environment, the greater its chances of survival.
3. Explain that the mother penguin feeds her young with milk that is very high in fat. The milk helps the baby produce a layer of blubber under its skin. The blubber helps keep the penguin warm. As the baby grows, the layer of blubber becomes thicker, providing warmth and protection from the cold ocean waters. (Note: Be sure students understand that not all penguin species live in cold temperatures. Some penguins, like Galapagos penguins, live in warm climates. These penguins typically have bare patches around their eyes and can raise their wings to release heat.)