This experiment could also be called “Why Animals That Live in Snowy Regions Need Large Paws,” but that wouldn’t fit in the title!
The other day, we were reading about lynxes in our science book – Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day from Apologia. We were learning that the Canada lynx, which lives in the colder parts of North America, has large furry paws that make it easier to walk on the snow. Well, we live in North Texas. The last time my boys saw a significant amount of snow was in February 2010 when we had a record-breaking 12 inches! Aidan was 6 and Gresham was 3. Neither of them really understand why walking on snow would be difficult!
I came up with this activity to demonstrate how snowshoes work and why the lynx would need wide paws. It was totally spur-of-the-moment, and thankfully, it actually worked!
We filled a glass bowl with flour to be snow. Our “snow” was whole wheat – I had some expired flour that needed another purpose besides baking! I’m wondering if white flour would work even better.
We made footprints in the snow with a toy elephant since we didn’t have a lynx and I knew the elephant would be heavy enough to give a good result!
These are the footprints created by the elephant standing in the flour, I mean, snow. We didn’t push him down, just let him stand.
Then, I made some cardboard “snowshoes” for the elephant. Since his feet were so close together, I just made two big shoes. The elephant with the snowshoes on did not make visible footprints at all – the snowshoes spread out his weight to a larger area, and so he did not sink down in the snow!
It was also really interesting to push down on the elephant in the flour both with his snowshoes on and without and feel the difference in how easily his feet sank (or didn’t sink!) into the flour.
Apparently, it’s also fun to run your fingers through the flour, because later I walked through the kitchen and found this:
I should know better than to leave things out when Owen is around! Oh well, at least flour cleans up easily!
Is there a lot of snow in the winters where you live? Do your kids know what actual snowshoes are?
Linked to Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom