Until you learn to tie your shoes, the very most common way to cinch them to your feet is Velcro. The way that Velcro fastens together is not immediately apparent, but is easy enough to figure out with a little experimentation. This is a great subject for trying out a scientific method of investigation.
All you will need is some Velcro and some things to try to stick to it! Any size of Velcro will do, but the bigger an area you can cover with it for this, the more fun you will have – try a vest of Velcro as a fun twist.
Examine Velcro closely – it has a very fine structure, but you won’t necessarily need any aid to see it (though you can see more with a magnifier or microscope of some kind). It is made of many small hooks. Imagine together what sort of things might best attach themselves to the Velcro, given its structure. Now try as many as you can find! Woven textiles of most kinds will attach somewhat -everything from loosely-bound cotton to many silks, though the silk will experience some wear if you try it. Smooth surfaces with nothing to hook onto will not work: metals and smooth plastics and glass, for example. What about steel wool?
As you can see from its structure, Velcro works by hooking onto the fibres in fabrics – and it works on a surprising number of them. Because of this, it will not attach to smooth surfaces, or ones where it can’t hook through the fibres of the material. It has a very similar structure to the seeds of certain plants, but you will have to stay tuned until the spring for part 2 to find out which ones (save an old pair of wool socks!).
Robot Zoo has an excellent example of how Velcro works using human-sized hand and foot pads to mimic how a house fly walks on surfaces. It’s just one of the many great pieces in the Robot Zoo, which is only here until January 20th. Come visit us at the Discovery Centre: it’s never too early to get hooked on science!