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13-HR Lucy Rose arm in frozen pond.JPG

SCIENTISTS GET DRESSED GLOVE CHALLENGE/STEM ACTIVITY

HANDS-ON STEM ACTIVITY INSPIRED BY THE NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK SCIENTISTS GET DRESSED by Deborah Lee Rose (Persnickety Press/Wundermill)

WHY DO SCIENTISTS WEAR GLOVES?
To protect their hands from freezing or burning, getting cut or scraped, or being exposed to germs or chemicals
—To keep germs or dirt on their hands from reaching patients, lab samples or sensitive pieces of equipment

WHAT KINDS OF GLOVES DO SCIENTISTS WEAR?
All kinds of gloves!
Giant mittens to keep warm on glaciers; gloves lined with Kevlar, stronger than steel, for handling rescued raptors; spacesuit gloves with fingertip warmers for outside a spacecraft; cotton gloves that won’t melt on volcanoes; waterproof gloves to keep dry and warm in ponds, streams and lakes; tight-fitting, thin gloves that flex like a bare hand for work in labs or operating rooms; and more…s

ACTIVITY THEME AND PURPOSE
If you were a scientist, what gloves would YOU wear?
Try different tasks wearing different kinds of gloves, to understand scientists’ need for specific clothing and tools and the real hands-on challenges of scientific work.

WHAT YOU NEED
Inexpensive types of gloves including:
thick cotton gloves to represent a volcanologist’s gloves
very thin, very flexible gloves to represent a lab scientist’s or surgeon’s gloves
thicker, ski-type gloves to represent an astronaut’s space gloves
large mittens or oven mitts to represent a glaciologist’s gloves
long dishwashing gloves to represent a water scientist’s gloves

Inexpensive “tools” including:
tongs to pick things up/storage container with liftoff or screw-on top/small sponge wedges/measuring tape/toy bricks or other building blocks/washable markers and paper/Optional: ice cubes and water in a large bowl or container

WHAT TO DO
Put on each kind of gloves, one kind at a time, and try to:
Connect or build with toy bricks
Open and close a container with liftoff or screw-on top
Pick up sponge wedges or other soft objects with tongs
Measure an object of any size
Write with a marker 
If you have water and ice, and two kinds of waterproof gloves, put your gloved hands briefly in the icy water and try one glove type at a time. Which gloves keep your hands warmer?

WHAT HAPPENED
Which gloves worked best with which tools/tasks? Why?
What factors help scientists choose their gloves?

GLOVE CHALLENGE ACTIVITY EXTENSION—
from glaciologist Adrian McCallum

Test different kinds of gloves—including your own cold weather gloves—by timing yourself to see how long it takes to button or zip your coat, depending on what gloves you’re wearing. On a space mission or in extremely cold regions like the Arctic and Antarctica, for example, how fast scientists get dressed is critical to their safety and even their survival.

[All photos in this activity are from SCIENTISTS GET DRESSED by Deborah Lee Rose, who created this activity. She also helped create the NSF-funded STEM website howtosmile.org, and was senior science writer for UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.]

Glaciologist Adrian McCallum wears four pairs of mittens at a time when collecting snow and ice samples from the coldest places on Earth.   Courtesy of Martin Hartley Photography

Glaciologist Adrian McCallum wears four pairs of mittens at a time when collecting snow and ice samples from the coldest places on Earth.
Courtesy of Martin Hartley Photography


Waterproof gloves keep freshwater chemist Lucy Rose’s hands warm and dry to test water quality in a frozen stream.  Ethan Pawlowski (c) Lucy Rose

Waterproof gloves keep freshwater chemist Lucy Rose’s hands warm and dry to test water quality in a frozen stream. Ethan Pawlowski (c) Lucy Rose

Scientists Get Dressed includes over 50 kinds of scientists’ clothing, tools, gear and technology. How many can you find?
safety helmet/spacesuit/lab coat/surgical mask/surgical gloves/ magnifying glasses/snorkel/goggles/swim fins/hard hat/ coveralls/headlamp/eclipse glasses/harness/wheelchair/ sneakers/parachute/ hiking-climbing boots/life jacket/ respirator/parka/mittens/balaclava/ hoodie/bunny suit/
shoe covers/SUN hat/knee pads/waders/beekeeper’s veil/
leather jacket/ghillie camouflage suit/ camera/animal costume/ snow pants/headphones/microphone/surgical gown/rash guard/ sensor equipment/T-shirt/pants/backpack/flight helmet/ shovel/hammer/CTD—conductivity, temperature, depth sensor/cotton work gloves/sledgehammer/waterproof gloves

Long gloves lined with Kevlar, stronger and lighter than steel, let raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp safely carry Beauty the Bald Eagle.   Glen Hush, © Jane Veltkamp

Long gloves lined with Kevlar, stronger and lighter than steel, let raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp safely carry Beauty the Bald Eagle.
Glen Hush, © Jane Veltkamp

Ecologist Bill Moore wears thick, warm gloves to check hibernating, endangered Indiana bats for disease. His clothing and gear must be cleaned after each bat cave visit to prevent spreading disease from one bat colony to another.   Steve Thomas, National Park Service

Ecologist Bill Moore wears thick, warm gloves to check hibernating, endangered Indiana bats for disease. His clothing and gear must be cleaned after each bat cave visit to prevent spreading disease from one bat colony to another.
Steve Thomas, National Park Service