Polar bears and global warming for kids

Global warming causes the average temperatures in the world to increase.”

Around the North Pole, the cold season is becoming shorter, the sea ice melts earlier and the time during which polar bears can hunt for food diminishes every year.

This threat may seem remote, and difficult to explain to children growing up in more temperate regions of the world.

How can you make this situation more concrete and easier to understand? Here is what I propose.

If you do this project in the winter and it is cold enough where you live, fill a plastic tub or storage box with snow.

Pack the snow tightly.
If it’s not cold enough outside, fill a plastic container with water and put it in the freezer until the water is frozen solid.
Bring the frozen container into a warm room and put plastic polar bear figurines on the ice.

If you don’t have any polar bear figurines, you could make your own from play dough or paper.

Now, let the children observe what happens.

If you want to apply a more scientific method, start by asking the children to formulate hypotheses: “What do you think will happen?”, “How long is it going to take?”, etc.

Then, at regular intervals, let them observe what happens and let them measure the thickness of the ice.

Polar bears mainly feed on seals, which they hunt from the edge of sea ice.

With temperatures rising over the years, the ice floes shrink and the time during which polar bears can hunt for food diminishes as well.

As a result of these two effects, the survival of polar bears is threatened and in the long run, the species could disappear altogether.

This reality is represented in a very concrete(and simplified) way by the melting of the ice in the plastic container of our experiment.

Sometimes, dramatic images like this one are needed to inspire to action.

If you do this experiment, share the kid’s comments.


Polar Bears

The polar bear is the world’s largest bear(along with the omnivorous Kodiak bear) with adult males weighing in at a whopping 770to 1,500 pounds.
Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.
They have a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellant coat that insulates them from the cold air and water.
Considered talented swimmers, they can sustain a pace of six miles per hour by paddling with their front paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder.
Polar bears spend over 50 percent of their time hunting for food, but less than two percent of their hunts are successful.
Their diet mainly consists of ringed and bearded seals because they need large amounts of fat to survive.
Unlike grizzly bears, polar bears are not territorial.
Although stereotyped as being aggressive, they are usually cautious confrontations and often choose to escape rather than fight.
Polar bears are stealth hunters, and the victim is often unaware of the bear’s presence until the attack is underway.

However, due to the minuscule human population around the Arctic, such attacks are rare.
Although polar bears live solitary lives, they have often been seen playing together for hours at a time and even sleeping in an embrace.
Cubs are especially playful as well.
Among young males, in particular, play-fighting may be a means of practicing for serious competition during mating seasons later in life.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations currently in decline.
Polar bears are forced to become long-distance swimmers to find food and places to sleep as Arctic ice continues to melt.
New research published April 14 in the journal “Ecography” says that polar bears are swimming longer and longer distances as the ice they depend on for survival disappears.

One-hundred bears were tracked with GPS collars off the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada.
In 2004, only 25 percent of these bears made swims of more than 31 miles, but in 2012, 69 percent of the bears were making these long journeys.
In 2009, one female bear swam for nine days straight without stopping for food or rest. She traveled a total of 250 miles to reach a habitable ice slab.

Dr.Nicholas Pilford with the Institute for Conservation Research told NewsBeat Social his findings provide “another reminder of the rapid pace of environmental change in the arctic.


Reading to Kids about Bears on a Camping Trip | Good Idea or Great Idea?

Maybe you’ve seen the image or read the tweet:
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except for bears, bears will kill you.”

Bears hold an important part of our imagination, especially on camping trips. It’s just turned autumn. Autumn is a beautiful time of year.
Among the pleasantries of autumn are annual grade school class camping trips. I participated as a chaperoning parent in our children’s class camping trip – all memorable in one way or another – but one particularly memorable as to my choice of a campfire book.

My oldest son’s 4th-grade camping jamboree had all the makings of a great trip – great campground near a river, a Gold Rush town nearby, walks in the woods full of history and the warmth of a large campfire.

Everything was going great – an excellent hamburger dinner, Gold Rush style music, and camping under the stars – 0h – actually camping in a canvas tent. It was lights out. Everyone left to their respective tents.
Fathers were in one group of tents with the boys, and mothers were in another group of tents with the girls.

My tent was well placed in the campground, and it was my job to oversee five boys. I’d planned well for the trip – warm clothes, hiking boots and a book that I knew the kids would love – Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance.

I knew that my storytelling aided by the book would add to the wonder of the wilderness. Once we were safe, all zipped up in our tents.
I turned on my flashlight and asked the boys, not quite sleepy yet, if they would like for me to read them a story.
The answer was a resounding yes; Oh, what dreams they must have enjoyed that night! Research shows that reading aloud enhances classroom instruction and improves academic achievement.
I can’t say I was aware of that the investigation, but I figured that evoking the presence of bears on a campground full of fourth-graders was just what the doctor ordered.

Not long into a chapter of Bear Attacks, one of our young campers announced he wasn’t feeling too good and made a lightning-fast exit for his mother’s tent next door.

Momentarily pausing the story, I considered the possibility that the magic of reading aloud to children about killer bears might occasionally have a downside.
No other parent chaperone, however, could bring the wonders of the wild to life quite as I could.
The next morning I learned that Cory’s mother and some other chaperone mothers did not approve of my campground reading selection.
Upon a two-or-three second reflection, I thought she made a fine point.
For all remaining Fourth Grade Camping Trips, Bear Attacks stayed at home. Stalked by a Mountain Lion, I learned, proved much more kid-friendly.

I hope these give you some great ideas for your next camping trip.