Now is the perfect time of year to use the ants from out on the playground, campus fields, or any location near your classroom for some serious experimentation! First, have your students google information about ants and the roles they play within their colony. Then use your media center/school library to supplement their research . After you’re comfortable that your students have learned enough about ants to give them the background they need to begin to make educated guesses about ant behavior, take your students to an ant hill and circle out along where the forage ants are walking.
Since ants are social insects, your students should easily see the work being done that was described in your research. Guards are guarding the entrance to the nest, builders are hauling pebbles and grains of sand, nurse maids are hauling trash, and foraging ants are hunting and dragging food back to the colony.
This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how ants communicate using pheromones. Trap a few ants by the entrance, and watch as the alarm spreads outward like a rock in a pond. All ants will stop what they are doing and turn to the task of defense. Read the rest of this entry »