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Science Experiment: Learn about insulation using mittens

Posted at 10:49 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 13:50:10-05

In this experiment, we will use mittens to learn about insulation.

Thanks to Bernie Sanders, we've been hearing a lot about mittens in the last couple of weeks!

Living in Wisconsin, mittens can help to keep our hands and our fingers warm and help prevent frostbite.

But have you ever really thought about how mittens work? We can demonstrate exactly how they work with a simple experiment. To try this experiment at home, you need:

  • Mittens
  • A thermometer (one that will fit inside a mitten)

To start the experiment, take the temperature of the mitten without a hand in it. Put the thermometer inside the mitten, wait a couple of minutes, and see what happens. The temperature remains largely unchanged.

Now, put your hand inside of the mitten and inset the thermometer between your skin and the mitten. Give that a couple of minutes and see what happens. It's easy to see, in a short amount of time, the considerable warm up on the thermometer.

So, what does this simple experiment teach us? The concept of insulation. The mitten itself isn't actually warm - the mitten doesn't produce its own heat. The mitten acts as an insulator and it helps to hold in our own energy and our own body heat. It's our body that gives off heat energy. The mitten helps contain the heat close to our skin, keeping us warm. The same concept applies with gloves, hats, earmuffs, and coats; they help hold our body heat in and keep that layer of warmth close to our body.

If you try this experiment at home, let Kristen know! Send her an email or a message on social media.

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