Archive for October 22nd, 2007

Get Out the Blubber Glove

That’s right! Blubber glove.

This past Saturday was People for Puget Sound’s Kid’s Day and for my service project, I organized an activity fair that focused on marine mammals. Children and their parents came to the whale museum and learned to identify killer whales by looking at their saddle patches and dorsal fins. They also listened to Brett’s (Beam Reach class 051) Puget Soundscape to hear the noises of the local underwater world. Children had the chance to try their hand at being a “bubbler,” “skimmer,” or “gulper.” Or, said another way, children learned about the different eating techniques of baleen whales.

And then there was the blubber glove. I think that this activity was the hit of the day- it certainly was my favorite. I had a bucket of water with ice floating in it. I would ask a child to stick their fingers in the water and tell me how long they thought that they could swim in the cold water. Answers varied from 3 seconds to 1 hour. I then showed the child a bag filled with butter-flavored Crisco- the blubber glove. There were a number of “Eww, what is that?” responses, but most of the kids were willing to poke at the squishy yellow insides of the bag. After we talked about what was in the bag (butter which is a fat like blubber, but no… it’s not real whale blubber), I had the child stick their hand inside the blubber glove and then into to the cold water while also putting their bare hand in the water with the instruction to pull out each hand when it got cold. Very quickly, out came the bare hand while the blubber gloved hand remained comfortable. An insulating layer of fat- what an amazing adaptation for a warm blooded animal living in 50° water.

Overall, I think the day was quite successful. Approximately 25 children came to The Whale Museum with their parents, though much to Val’s chagrin, I don’t have any pictures of the happy tykes.

A big, huge, whale-sized thank you to Tim, Alex, Sam, and Ash for giving time out of their very busy schedule to volunteer on this day.

On an unrelated note, both Val and Jason have declared my research project “interesting” followed by exclamations of “This is science!” It is interesting, and it certainly is science of the “this is new research so the results don’t make immediate sense” variety. I am enjoying the puzzle as long I push away my desire to have neat statistically-analyzed results.

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