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Activity

Fur test for keeping warm

Summary: 
Feel how warm real fur is, and how it can keep water and cold off.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Lessons activity is in: 
Materials: 
  • Bear skin, or other skin of furry animal
  • Ice cubes
Procedure: 

Students dig one hand into the bear fur and keep the other hand out of the fur.
An ice cube is laid on each hand.
Which one feels cold first?

Why do you think you kept warmer with the fur?

The fur also keeps out other kinds of weather besides cold. (Wind and rain).
Dig one hand into the fur and blow over it. Feel how protected from the wind it is.
Dig one hand into the fur, and one not. Can you feel the drops of water in each case?

Bear fur is made of two types: find the downy underfur, and the coarse guard hairs.
Underfur is soft and dense and is the insulator.
The outer guard hairs are thicker, longer and coarser. They do insulate, but have other purposed as well: They keep out dirt, debris and insects. They repel water (bears shake just like a dog when they come out of water). They can be used to communicate. Raised hackles indicate that the bear is angry or frightened.
Bears molt annually in the early summer.  They shed both their underfur and outer guard hairs, leaving only a short, sleek summer undercoat.  Their new coat is growing in as the old one is being shed, so that by fall they have their thick, luxurious coats once again.
www.americanbear.org

Notes: 

This activity was originally started with a prediction of which hand would stay warm longer, but I have found that grade 1 and 2s are not ready for predictions. They are sometimes more worried about getting the right answer than accurately observing what they see.

Grades taught: 
Gr 1
Gr 2
Teacher: 
Anke Barabulea
Ingrid
Teaching site: 
General Gordon Elementary