PBS KIDS GO!dragonflytv

Find out when DragonflyTV is on in your town.
Discover DFTV!
This text is replaced by the Flash movie.

Gecko Feet

We're Jennifer and Nooshin and we're rock climbers extraordinaire! We recently decided to go to the Lawrence Hall of Science to see some lizards firsthand and find out: Which lizards are the best climbers?

What did we do?
We met up with Alondra at the museum who showed us lots of different lizards from geckos to a bearded dragon. We decided to make a chart to help us determine which lizard was the best climber. We looked at their feet and where they liked to hang out in the tank. Can they climb branches or glass? Afterward, Alondro sent us to the University of California Berkeley to learn more.

What did we find out?
Out of all the lizards we saw at the museum, the best climbers were definitely geckos! At the university, Bob showed us up-close pictures of a gecko's foot. We saw these tiny nanohairs with lots of split ends. Bob told us that these millions of little hairs are why geckos can climb so well. The hairs stick really well in one direction and pull of easily in another so the gecko can keep moving. An engineer named Ron showed us some tape that was modeled after gecko feet. The tape didn't feel sticky, but we saw it hold a lot of weight! Imagine the possibilities for this nano-invention!

What can you do?
  • Observe the lizards in your area (or at your local pet store). Which are the best climbers? Observe other climbing critters like spiders, flies, snails, tree frogs and chipmunks. What do they use to climb?
  • Rip off 2 pieces of Scotch tape, each about 2 iches long. Stick both on the edge of a desk (leave about 1 inch hanging off the end). Rip off both pieces at the same time and try to bring the non-sticky sides together. What happens? This force you felt is really important at the nanoscale.
  • Grab a regular teacup, a really tiny teacup (from a dollhouse) and a bowl of water. Fill the regular cup with water. What will happen if you turn it upside down? What force pulls the water out of the cup? Now fill the tiny teacup with water and flip it upside down. Does the water pour out?
more resources
Living Things

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
If a gecko could use every one of its setae, or tiny hairs, on all four feet, how much weight could it hold and still stick to the ceiling?

dragonflytv PBS Kids Go!