Apologies for not posting this earlier. I was volunteering at our museum this morning and scheduling this post completely slipped my mind.
This is the last day of my week of posts for summer science observation ideas. Today is all about ants. Most likely they are all around you and you probably have several different species of ants. Before I thought about the number of species that we have here in Florida I would go around indiscriminately killing every ant that we saw. Why? Because we have fire ants here and when they bite it hurts like crazy and they are quite aggressive. I was unaware of the difference between the fire ant mounds and the nests of other ants that live here, but one day I found a book that showed the difference and I have been a reformed ant killer ever since…I only kill fire ants. 🙂
Ants are highly social animals that live in colonies; each ant has a particular task to perform. Unfortunately, the beauty of the ant caste system is mainly to be found under the ground. I highly recommend buying or making an ant farm so that you and your children can watch the ants dig their tunnels. It is quite fascinating and brings up a whole bunch of other questions. You can look at my expanded insect lesson plans for more observation questions.
But for today, simply head out to some green space and look for ants. If you don’t have fire ants then you may want to bring some back into your house for observation. You can always put a few in a jar and put them in your refrigerator for a few minutes – the cold air will cause them to slow down and it will be easier to see their body parts. Can you count six legs? Can you see the head, thorax, and abdomen? What does the face of an ant look like? What color is your ant? Do all of your ants appear to be the same size? Are your ants interacting with one another? Do you see any ants bringing things into or out of their nest?
http://www.pestworldforkids.org/ants.html – information about ants
http://www.antweb.org/ – how to become an ant collector and some great photos
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/insects/ant/Antcoloringpage.shtml – ant diagram and basic information
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtRNBHM3DR0&feature=fvwrel – a 5 minute video showing ants digging tunnels, sped up 900x
I would love to hear about your ant experience and if you have enjoyed these 5 days of summer science ideas; I certainly hope that you have.