Rubber Duck Science

This page is devoted to how rubber ducks have been used in scientific research.

Some of this research that used rubber ducks was almost by accident. On January 10, 1992 over 28,000 plastic toys made for the company First Years Inc were dropped over board from a container ship. Among these toys were yellow rubber ducks.

First Year Duck
First Year Duck

Along with the yellow ducks were red beavers, green frogs and blue turtles.

At first the company offered a reward for return of any of these toys that people sent in (I can no longer find info that the company that bought them is still offering that reward). The reward was not being offered in order to get the toys back but to track were the toys floated to. People like Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer used this information to track sea currents. As of 2010 the toys have come to shore all along the Pacific and have since been frozen into the polar ice caps and migrated over North America in to the Atlantic.

First Year duck map
First Year duck map
You can find more information about these ducks at the following web site beachcombers alert

Another experiment that is using rubber ducks is one to see were water that is running through Glacier ends up. When a probe failed to work they went low tech. They placed about 200 rubber ducks with labels that told people to report were they found them out on the glacier. The same as the ducks that came from the cargo ship the location that these ducks are found at will be used to map the way the glacier water flows to the seas.

NASA Duck (Konrad Steffen / University Of Colorado)


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