Gecko Feet

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This is an activity (located on page 3 of PDF under Gecko Feet Activity) about modeling a nanoscale phenomenon (gravity-defying gecko feet) with macroscale objects (shoes). Using shoes and some chalk, learners will calculate how much area of the shoe's sole actually comes in contact with the ground. At the nanoscale, many split ends on a gecko's toe hairs make maximum contact with a surface, allowing the gecko to do amazing feats like climb walls. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Gecko Feet.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • shoes with different soles that you don’t mind getting a little dirty (e.g., a sneaker and flat dress shoe)
  • crushed sidewalk chalk (not white)
  • shoebox
  • graph paper and pencils


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749