Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Hello, Young Blubbers!
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Tips-- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Computer Resources
You will need a computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 with at least 16 MB of RAM running Windows 95.

For more information visit "What You Need to Get Connected" in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

Materials and Equipment:
  • Ice
  • Cold water
  • 5 bowls
  • Crisco or shortening
  • 10 ziploc bags

    Bookmark the following sites:


  • Marine Mammals in Nunavut

  • Sea World -- Walrus: Physical Characteristics


  • Show a photograph of a walrus. Invite students to discuss what they know about the animal. List these responses on a chart or blackboard.

    Challenge students to use the Web to locate answers to the questions posed on the Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Walruses But Were Afraid to Ask handout. The handout includes several URLs to facilitate students' research. Teachers may want to divide students into groups and assign each group responsibility for a portion of the questions.

  • The following day/period, have students report their findings to the class. Ask if anyone can define the word "adaptation." Discuss various answers and write the definition on the board. Solicit examples from students of various animal adaptations, e.g., a giraffe's long neck helps it eat leaves on tall trees.

    Ask students what they've learned about the walrus's physical adaptations to its environment. List responses on the board. Discuss how each adaptation helps the walrus survive and thrive in its environment. Discuss other animals that may have similar physical adaptations. Tell students they will discover for themselves how one of these adaptations, blubber, helps insulate walruses from the cold.

  • Hands-on Activity: Like whales and seals, walruses insulate their bodies with a thick layer of fat called blubber. (Blubber is such a good insulator, sometimes when a sea mammal exerts itself by swimming rapidly it can die from overheating!) Walruses need to be able to automatically adjust the flow of blood to the surface of their skin so they can survive extreme temperatures. In fact, if a walrus gets overheated, its blood rushes to the surface of its body to help keep it cool. So, lying out in the sun can make a walrus blush -- and not because it forgot its bathing suit!

    Divide students into 5 groups. Give each group a bowl of ice water and a ziploc bag. The students will predict what they think will happen when they stick their hands in the ice water.

    Have students put their hand in an empty ziploc bag and place it in the water. Ask them to record observations about the way their hand feels. Next, give students a ziploc bag with Crisco in it, without letting students know what is in it. (Note: Use a double ziploc bag so that the Crisco is between the two bags. This way, the students' hands won't get greasy.) Ask students to predict what will happen when they put their hand in the bag and then put it in the water.

    Have students put their hand in the ziploc bag in the cold water. Have them record observations about how their hand feels. Then have students come together as a group and discuss the differences in the way their hands felt in the different bags. Ask them to guess what the substance is and then discuss how it is similar to blubber on walruses.

  • Extended Activity: Reinforce the purpose that blubber serves. How is blubber a physical adaptation? Talk about other animals (whales, seals) that use blubber to keep warm. Talk about other ways in which animals regulate their body temperature, e.g., perspiring.

    Teachers may want to challenge students to research other animals and the way their bodies and anatomy respond to the environments and survival challenges they face. Have students design HyperStudio or Web publications illustrating the myriad of adaptations that can be found in the animal kingdom. (For more information on HyperStudio visit wNetSchool's Software Samples & Projects section. For more information on desiging Web pages, visit Create Your Own Web Page ( For example, in a presentation or publication called "Mommy, Am I Adapted?" students can match images of baby animals with accompanying examples of that organism's particular physical adaptations.

    Optional: Teachers may also choose to follow-up this lesson on the walrus and its physical adaptations by exploring that animal's behavioral adaptations. (The same URLs listed in "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Walruses But Were Afraid to Ask" can be used to research walrus behavioral adaptations.)


    Working in Groups
    If you have access to only one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your classroom into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc. from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the group to take turns. (It may be efficient to have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer.) When the groups have finished working have them switch places.

    Look for Web Resources Together as a Class
    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do an Internet search together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen. Go to the TOOTHWALKERS: GIANTS OF THE ARCTIC ICE site and review the information presented there. Bookmark the pages that you and your students think are helpful. Go to a search engine page, allow your students to suggest the search criteria, and do an Internet search. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time and make suggestions. This way, you can be sure that students have a starting point.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students