Canada is a land of bears. People usually associate Canada with the Canada Goose, beavers and the moose…but we have a lot of bears here too. We have shared many STEM activities for kids over the years and this one will examine the impact of melting sea ice on polar bears.
for your convenience, this post contains affiliate links
You can find black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears across Canada. Since polar bears primarily live in the northern most regions of Canada, it can be easy to forget about their habitat. Times are changing.
The rise in our global climate has had a direct impact on polar bears and their habitat. I put together this polar bear activity to open the conversation with my kids about climate change and the future for polar bears.
Polar Bear Activity: Melting Sea Ice
We started off by making our own sea ice. I filled a container with about an inch of water…it is so cold outside right now, I set the container on our front porch to freeze.
Next I made two polar bears. I used Prang DAS air hardening modelling clay (my favourite air hardening clay) to sculpt these basic bears.
Once the ice was frozen and our polar bears were ready, we brought our sea ice inside. I slipped the ice out of the container and used a hammer to break the ice into pieces. My daughter then placed the polar bears on the ice and played for a while.
Questions to Ask During the Activity (I asked my 9 year old daughter these questions as we played and we worked through these answers together)
Question: Why is sea ice so important to polar bears?
Answer: Polar bears need sea ice in order to survive.
Question: What do polar bears need to survive? What do polar bears eat?
Answer: Polar bears eat seals and they find seals, on the sea ice…without a diet of seals, polar bears cannot survive.
Question: Why are seals on the sea ice?
Answer: Seals have their pups on the sea ice and find their food on sea ice. Seals eat small fish and crustaceans who live on the edges of the ice. The ice melt is impacting seals as well.
Question: How might less ice impact polar bears ability to hunt for seals?
Answer: With less sea ice comes more competition for food. As the sea ice melts and the seal population falls, polar bears will need to compete for their food and find alternative food sources. The problem is that polar bears are huge animals, who require the high fat diet of seals in order to survive the cold climate they live in.
Question: What other reason is sea ice important for polar bears?
Answer: Sea ice is very important for female polar bears. Female polar bears create maternity dens on the sea ice. Studies have shown that pregnant polar bears have to travel further to find thick and stable ice to build their dens and have their cubs.
Question: Why is the sea ice melting?
Answer: The overall temperature of entire world is warming ever so slightly. This is called “global warming” or “climate change”. The slightest increase in temperature is having a negative impact on the formation of sea ice, the quality of sea ice and the amount of sea ice that exists.
Question: How can we help polar bears, seals and sea ice?
Answer: We can find out more about polar bears and their habitat. We can find out more about global warming. We can find ways to have a positive impact on the world around us.
A few of our favourite resources…
Learning about an oil spill’s environmental impact
How to make a bee bath for your garden
BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO KITCHEN COUNTER CHRONICLES TO HAVE OUR DELICIOUS RECIPES, FUN CRAFTS & ACTIVITIES DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX.