Sunday, January 31, 2010

SEM images taken of Coco the Gecko's skin by George Lisensky-Professor of Chemistry at Beloit College

Gecko Skin

Student testing the super hydrophobicity of gecko skin.

Here is a picture of Coco the gecko.

George Lisensky, professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has taken SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) images of samples of skin that Coco shed. The images will be posted later. They are spectacular!


In the MicroExplorers club we studied how water reacts with various structures in nature. We looked at elephant ear plant and how its structure makes it super hydrophobic (really afraid of water).  This is called the lotus effect.  See previous posts about the students discoveries and the lotus effect. 

Following the lotus effect investigation, one of my students wondered if Coco, our class gecko, also had super hydrophobic skin since water seemed to roll off of him whenever we sprayed the cage.  Coco agreed to allow us to spray him with water and we found that his skin is super hydrophobic. It even maintained its super hydrophobicity after it was shed. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Children's Museum-Girl Scout Science

Here is a picture of Hannah Tuson from the Weibel Laboratory at the UW-Madison and me doing the girl scout cookie investigation we created to introduce microscopy to girl scouts. We will repeat the investigation on February 20th for troop number 2490.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Insipirations from nature... Kids drawings. Thanks to Greta Zenner-Peterson for scanning all of these for us.

Super hydrophobic stickers that will not come off in the bathtub.

(Iridescent Cloak)

A super hydrophobic roof. (This was inspired by a leaky roof)

No more worries about forgetting money in your jean pockets.

MicroExplorers and Girl Scouts

On February 20th, Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to explore the microscopic world around them. The girls will have to figure out what is in the petri dish to get another badge for the sash. is something that they sell a lot of! Researchers from the Weibel Lab will bring scientific discovery and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coco the gecko

Coco the class gecko has been an inspiration for lots of investigations with the kids. Its skin is also super hydrophobic.
Disclaimer: no geckos were harmed in any of our experiments. He had some water sprayed on him and the skin he sheds has been studied under a microscope.

Toyota Tapestry

I just submitted my shot at the Toyota Tapestry Grant for Science teachers. I am looking to get funding for an after-school science club for next school year. I got a grant this past year from the Aristos Grant program in the Madison Metro School District for the science club that I am running this year, but so many really great ideas came from the kids this year, that I knew I would need more resources. So, I will keep my fingers firmly crossed.

Highlight text to find out what has been magnified 20X
. Sandpaper

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the fall of 2009 I lead an after school club. One of the investigations was looking at Super Hydrophobic surfaces. The students tested various leaves for super hydrophobicity. We have a list going of super hydrophobic leaves. We have Nasturtium, Elephant Ear, Brassica, and Cabbage. Feel free to add more that you have discovered.


I am starting this blog to record the progress and development of the MicroExplorers After-School Science Club at Aldo Leopold School in Madison, WI. I will share pictures, lesson plans, and reflections.