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Duck Feet

4.6 based on 7 ratings

Updated on Feb 08, 2012

Grade Level: 1st - 3rd; Type: Physics


To investigate if webbed feet help a duck (and others) swim.

Research Questions

How do ducks feet help them swim?

All birds have use their feet for survival. The arrangement and size of the toes and the size and the shape of their claws differ according to how the birds use their feet. Ducks use their feet to swim. Their webbed feet are uniquely designed to help them move through the water. A duck’s foot has the ability to become wider. Ducks use their webbed feet like paddles to provide more surface to push against the water.


  • pool
  • swimmer
  • stopwatch
  • kickboard
  • 2 pair of swim fins
  • scissors
  • marker
  • paper
  • pencil

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials. You will need to have access to a pool and a strong swimmer willing to swim several laps in the pool.
  2. Ask an adult to cut one pair of the flippers to resemble the feet of a non-swimming bird.
  3. At the pool, time the swimmer using the kickboard and his or her bare feet to move across the length of the pool. Record the time.
  4. Have the swimmer repeat step 3. Average the swim times by adding the times and dividing by 3.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 two more times having the swimmer using the kickboard and the two pair of fins. Be sure to record the times.
  6. Analyze the data and draw a conclusion.

Terms/Concepts: surface: area of an outer space resistance: something that goes against something else; Ducks are good swimmers. Their webbed feet are designed to help them move easily through water.


“Bird Adaptations - Feet” at “Bird Feet” at

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years - first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood - another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.