Underwater Animals
One class period

7th Grade
Students will understand the following:
1. Blubber is a layer of fat beneath the skin of many sea mammals.
2. Blubber acts as an insulator, helping sea mammals to keep warm in cold waters.
The following materials will be required for each group:
Rubber gloves
Large bowl
Solid vegetable shortening
Outdoor thermometer (optional)
1. Before beginning this activity, students should have the following background
- Whales, seals, dolphins, and porpoises are not fish, but mammals, which means they are
warm blooded.
- Warm-blooded animals' body temperatures remain constant; their body temperatures do
not adjust to changes in the surrounding temperature.
- Warm-blooded animals, in order to maintain a constant body temperature, need a way to
keep warm when the surrounding temperature is cold.
2. Ask students how they think sea mammals—such as whales, seals, dolphins, and
porpoises—stay warm in cold water.
3. Make sure students know what blubber is—a thick layer of fat beneath the skin of sea
mammals. Tell them that they are going to do an experiment to find out how blubber helps
sea mammals stay warm.
4. Divide the class into groups, giving each group a large bowl filled with cold water and
ice cubes and a rubber glove.
5. Direct students to take turns putting on the rubber glove and submerging the gloved hand
in the ice water for 30 seconds. Have each student tell the group how his or her hand feels
after being submerged. (If you wish, have the student insert a thermometer into the glove
and wait one minute until the temperature registers.)
6. Tell students to record each student's reaction (and optional thermometer reading) on a
chart they devise themselves. The chart should have columns for group members' names
and for members' reactions (and an optional column for thermometer readings) without
“blubber.” The chart should also have a column for reactions (and an optional column for
thermometer readings) with “blubber.”
7. Next, have students take turns repeating the procedure, with each group member thickly
coating his or her hand with solid vegetable shortening before putting on the glove. Have
each student tell the group how his or her hand feels this time. (If using a thermometer to
measure the temperature, students should wait until the thermometer registers room
temperature again before proceeding with this step.) Group members should add data from
this step to their chart.
8. Discuss results with the class. Why did students' hands feel warmer when coated with
solid vegetable shortening than when uncoated? What does this experiment tell them about
the function of blubber in sea mammals?
9. Have students wash their hands with soap and water after the experiment.
Younger students will need help coating their hands with the shortening and with cleaning
up. If students will record data on charts, you might prepare the charts for the students in
advance. Rather than have students work on their own, you might have one or more
volunteers perform the experiment, with your help, as a demonstration for the class.

1. Besides blubber, what are some other physical characteristics that help keep animals
keep warm in cold climates?
2. Think of some animals that live in cold climates and some that live in hot climates.
Compare and contrast their physical characteristics.
3. Humans have a layer of fat under the skin, but not enough to keep us warm. How do
humans keep warm in cold weather?
4. Underwater mammals differ in many ways from mammals that live on land. In what
ways are land mammals and underwater mammals similar? What common characteristics
qualify both groups of animals to be called mammals?

You can evaluate groups on their charts using the following three-point rubric:
Three points:well designed; clear and carefully prepared; each group member's name and
reaction (and thermometer reading) listed
Two points:adequately designed; legible and satisfactorily prepared; some data missing
One point:inadequately designed; carelessly prepared; significant data missing
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining several
acceptable ways the chart could be designed.

Eight Things about Sharks
Invite students to brainstorm ideas and questions about sharks. Then encourage them to do
research to answer any questions they have. Have each student or group of students create
a storyboard for a television documentary about sharks. Each student or group should fold
a large sheet of paper into eight parts and illustrate or write eight of the important ideas
about sharks they would want to show. Students should write captions for all drawings.

Keiko to the Sea
Discovery Channel Online presents this page to showcase information about its stirring
video, “Keiko's Story: The Long Journey Home.” This site has additional details about the
program that can lead to further research.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
This is the home page of the aquarium where Keiko is living now.
International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP)
This page is where the Earth Island Institute shares information about its efforts to protect
marine mammals.
Whale Songs
This site is an educational center about whales and people.
Flip's Welcome
This is a “Whales of the World” educational program. The site includes 11 activities for
studying whales that can be used by students.

To become ready for a new situation by changing.
Life on this stuff is tough and only tough creatures able to change, or adapt, can survive.
Animals which are warm-blooded, breath air, and nurse their young.
Though they spend their whole lives in water, whales are not fish. They are mammals, like
An action of whales that involves leaping into the air and crashing back onto the water's
Breeching—leaping into the air and crashing back onto the water's surface—is one of their
most common behaviors.
An animal that hunts one or more other animals for its food.

Sharks are very good predators because of their excellent eyesight. Their eyes are sensitive
to light and can see the shadows of other fish very easily.
Sorry, no sound available.

Source: http://www.matsu.idv.tw/gov/tyjh/ocean/download/animal_down_001.pdf


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