Saturday, September 24, 2011

Science Saturdays: Ants!

Kids often get excited about science when they see big experiments and can mix things together to make something new. I admit, I still remember how awesome it was seeing my 6th grade teacher make green fire! But, there are other more simple parts of science that are just as important and also are fun. Basic exploration. No fancy tools or chemicals needed, just you and your 5 senses. Like watching ants.
 I was in the backyard and saw a streaming line of ants. I called my son over to look. We always look at big piles of ants, but this different. The ants were flowing out of two holes no where near each other and converging like the shape of a "Y" to another hole.
It was fun to imagine why they were all heading the same way.
 We were still thinking about the ants the next day, so we tried a little something I read about on FIMBY. We wanted to see what ants would eat.
  Here is what we started with.
 The first thing to go, and quickly, was the coconut flakes. We watched this one particular ant for a bit.
 He would trudge along and when he would get to a tricky spot along the way he would let go of the food and feel out his different options ahead.
 Then finding the best route, he'd keep going with the food.
 And some of the ants worked together as a team, making the food get home faster.
 See all those white specks? Word got out that there was free coconut! We checked out napkin full of snacks throughout the day and into the evening. It was interesting to see what appealed to the ants the most and which foods they seemed least interested in. It rained that night so we didn't get to see if anything was left in the morning. However, the video below (SUPER short) shows a few of the stages of food removal. Observe how they started "sawing" the peanut and cashew.
I think we will be doing this again!
More about ants:

1 comment:

Natalie said...

That is super cool - I think my kids would love to see that in action. I liked the time lapse video - excellent!