Second-graders at University School have started the year off by observing ant communities as part of a year-long exploration of living and non-living organisms. Second-grade teachers set up the ant habitats in their classrooms, and students have observed them and discussed how they relate to our community.
One ant habitat is made of a clear gel, which contains the necessary nutrients and water in the medium and provides for transparent viewing of the ants’ activities. The other contains sand, which requires students to add water and nutrients.
When the habitats are ready, the students chill their ants in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to slow down the ants’ activity, and then pour them into the prepared habitat. The ants are then free to design their habitat. The second-grade scientists study the ants’ behavior, ask questions, design experiments, make observations, and draw conclusions.
“The students find it interesting to observe the ants’ tunnel designs, the creation of waste piles of sediments, underground chambers (i.e., graveyard room as they often call it), and eating habits,” said Andrew Stone, Lower School science integration teacher.
The students took a time-lapse video of the ants in order to discover what they did in their habitat when school was closed. "We are fortunate to have the instructional technology resources available to makes these types of observations," said Stone.