Nano in Nature, Mimicking Geckos

Note: This lesson plan was adapted from the NISE activity “Synthetic gecko tape through nanomolding” 

Introduction: Geckos are able to climb up walls and walk on ceilings. This is due to the unique hierarchical structure of their feet. Scientists have been studying geckos to better understand the creatures’ ability to “stick” on walls. This information can then be used to create synthetic gecko feet that have numerous applications (e.g. sports, military, and medicine). In this lesson plan, students will learn about biomimicry, the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems. They will observe gecko feet at various length scales. They will then postulate as to how this structure creates “sticky” feet and discover the mechanism for adhesion to walls. Students will also get to make and test “gecko tape” and create their own design. (Optional, write a Kickstarter proposal to fabricate the design.)

Learning objectives

  • Students will be able to explain differences in length scale
  • Students will be able to explain the mechanism by which geckos can walk on walls
  • Students will be able to explain Van der Waals forces
  • Students will be able to describe the term “biomimicry” and give examples
  • Students will be able to describe important properties of a synthetic gecko foot and use this knowledge to create novel gecko tape design

Lesson Plan