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How do Penguins Stay Dry? 

Our fancy penguin friends love to go swimming even when the water is ice cold! So how do penguins manage to stay dry and warm? Find out with this fun penguin science activity!

Materials Needed

How do Penguins Stay Dry?

Difficulty Level: Medium

Time Needed: 15 minutes

Best done: Indoors or Outdoors

Mess Level: Medium

Penguins Swimming in Sea

Materials Needed

  • Blue Food Coloring

  • Water

  • Oil

  • Two Zipper Bags

Time to Experiment!

  • Ask your child what happens to their skin when they go swimming? Presumably they will tell you that their skin gets wet, and that they might get cold.

    • Tell your child that when a penguin goes swimming, their feathers manage to stay dry which helps keep them warm! Ask them how they think penguin feathers do this. (It’s totally okay if they have no idea)!

  • Then…


  • Fill the bag up with water, about ¼ of the way full and add blue food coloring (this represents the ocean)

  • Drip some oil into the water (you don’t need a lot)!

  • Zip the bag shut (or duct tape it closed)

  • Ask your child what observations they can make about the oil and water (they should notice that they stay separate)

  • Then let your child try to mix them up by shaking the bag.

  • Let them watch what happens when it settles again-the oil once again will separate from the water.


  • Give the simple explanation that a penguin’s feathers are covered in a type of oil too-so that even when they swim the oil on their feathers keeps the water off of them and they stay dry!

Other Snow Animal Science Activities

Polar Bear Science image

How Do Polar Bears Stay Warm?

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