Penguin Feathers and Wet Weather


Print or find a penguin picture to color. Free ones can be printed at

Color in the penguin feathers with crayons.

Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops food coloring.

Put the colored picture on a tray and spray the picture of the penguin while noticing what happens to the water droplets.

Questions to ask:

What do you notice?

Do the droplets do something different where you have colored with your crayon?

How would you describe what happens on the colored part? On the paper that is not colored?

Why do you think it beads up like that?

Do you know where penguins live?

Why do you think it would be helpful for a penguin to have a wax like substance on its feathers?

How could we find out more about penguins and their feathers?

Science behind activity:

The overlapping, densely packed feathers of penguins are coated with  preen oil to provide a sort of weatherproofing from the wet weather. Antartic seas may be as cold as 2.0 C. Tufts of down below the feathers trap air. This trapped layer of air in the feathers provides thermal insulation for the penguins. To retain heat, penguins tuck in their flippers close to their bodies to avoid heat loss and they shiver to generate additional heat.