Science Sunday: Feather experiments



learning about bird feathers

Do you remember my post about bird ideas?  Well, I’m taking an idea from it for our experiment this week.

Supplies: feathers (preferrably several types, we only had contour feathers), bag of ice, stuff to make the feathers dirty (we used peanut butter, syrup, honey, flour), supplies to clean the bird (we used paper towels, cotton cloth, towels).

Set-up: We did this in two parts.  First observation of the feather coupled with the ice experiment, and the second part later that day for cleaning the feather.

Feather experiment 1: Type of feather

feather observations

First, observe your feather.  What type of feather is it?  What do you notice about it?

My kids all remembered what it’s purpose was, but were fuzzy on the name.  The older kids remembered the names.


feather observations using a magnifying glass


We looked through our magnifying glass, and made more observations.  It wasn’t strong enough to see the barbs, but they were able to see more details.


feather visuals


And finally we wrote it down on our observation sheet.  My kids just drew pictures, but the older kids wrote about it.



Feather experiment 2: insulation

feather visuals

Then they held a bag of ice (or a freezer pack) and then they held it with a bag of feathers underneath.

We all agreed the feathers do quite a nice job of insulating us from the cold.  Now they understand much better why someone might have a down blanket.

Except Jeff is allergic to down, and  according to Superman so is Blue Arrow, who he is going to grow up to be.

And then we kicked the kids out to play while we set up the next part.

Feather experiment 3: cleaning feathers from an oil spill

feather experimentfeather experimentfeather experimentfeather experiment
And then they had to clean off a bird that had been hit by pollution.  Their feathers were covered in gunk, and they all discovered that no matter how hard they tried to clean it, you can’t get it back to where it was.

So, we were able to bring in how God created us to be stewards of the world, and it is our responsibility to care for it to the best of our ability.



18 responses to “Science Sunday: Feather experiments”

  1. musicalmary Avatar

    Hi Ticia, I'm trying to link up, but I don't see where I can submit my link for Science Sunday – I do see a LinkWithin link, but when I click it it just takes me to their general site. Can you help?

  2. Linky tools should be working now.

  3. I remember seeing the feather insulating experiment at The Rogers Family blog.

    Cool pollution experiment.

    Linking up later tonight 🙂

  4. littlewondersdays Avatar

    Neat project. We've been enjoying our pond walks, but have just been journaling the birds we see. We may have to try your experiment. The great backyard bird count starts later this week.

  5. I like this experiment!

  6. I really like both parts of this experiment – very fun. I will also link something bird-related tomorrow.

  7. Nicole {tired, need sleep} Avatar
    Nicole {tired, need sleep}

    Oh Ticia, I just LOVE this post! You know we are a bit bird-crazy here. The next time we have a bird unit we'll do this for sure. I really like understanding how it keeps the bird warm, and how you brought stewardship for God's little creatures into it – good job, mama!! 🙂

  8. What a fun experiment! Wasnt sure where to link up, so I am including it here. This is a terrific site, thank you!

  9. Very cool experiment, thanks for sharing it with us.

  10. An Almost Unschooling Mom Avatar
    An Almost Unschooling Mom

    I like the feather insulting idea better than the lard one 🙂

  11. I like the feather insulating idea! Mike is allergic to down, too. Along with dust mites which means I'm not allowed to keep a remotely untidy house, sigh…

  12. I like the way you showed the kids how the feathers insulate from the elements, then explored the affects of pollution on them.

  13. Ok, I see the linky now. Thank you for adding in our link!

  14. I do believe we may do this experiment this week in honor of National Bird Count Day…

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Richele Avatar

    This is so cool! I love seeing pictures detailing the experiment also. 🙂 Great looking kids and great looking project.

  16. The Book Chook Avatar
    The Book Chook

    I love reading about ideas where kids work things out for themselves through practical experiments.

  17. […] 3 Experiments with Feathers | Adventures in Mommydom […]

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