Giant Ant Farm review


We received a Giant Ant Farm and some harvester ants from Heath Scientific to try.

The Ants

Harvester ants are HUGE. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill tiny sidewalk ants. Even without a magnifying glass, you can clearly see their mandibles and other body parts.

The Farm

The Giant Ant Farm is fantastic for more than one child. The large, double-sided viewing area gives plenty of space for kids to come close and observe the ants.

The only drawback is the base: we’ve accidentally knocked it over a couple times. Then again, we have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, so accidents are not unexpected. I’m certain that older kids wouldn’t knock it over. A large-base alternative that won’t get knocked over is the ant hill, which has a smaller viewing area but is more stable.

Taking care of the ants

Ants are low-maintenance. They just require a few squirts of water and crumbs of food. The ant farm came with a years supply of food, which makes it easy to feed them.

For all ages

My 4-year-old and a 2-year-old were absolutely fascinated when we set up the ant farm. Elementary aged kids will love the farm as well and they will be thrilled to see the tunnels the ants build.

I find it fascinating to watch the ants too. You can see how they communicate and react to events like water raining on their farm. It’s unbelievable that even though no one ant is directing them, they still manage to get communal activities done. At first they’d dig and refill each others tunnels, but now they’ve built several together.

Teaching all about ants

ants

These resources, sorted by students’ ages, may help you in teaching about ants in your classroom or homeschool.

Pre-K

Ant unit: pre-writing, graphing, counting, craft, the letter A, patterns, and the ant life cycle.

Explore ants in the salt tray, Hey Little Ant story, ant snack, and the ant life cycle

Ant egg carton craft

Ant life cycle model

Elementary

Ant lapbook

Ants: pests or pals poll

Ant anatomy coloring page

Ant life cycle model

Ant zoom gallery: see an ant up close

Ant farm

Middle school +

Behavior of Ants 4-week lesson series

AntWeb: database of ant images and specimen records

Ant anatomy

Build a simple ant farm

Hands-on

Of course, one of the best ways to teach about ants is to allow students to experience ants hands-on in an ant farm or ant hill.

Fascinating videos

Sticky feet: how ants walk

Fire ants making a living raft in water

Ants herding other bugs

Excavating a colony

Underwater ant nest

Death spiral

More Resources

Do you have any great resources for teaching about ants in your classroom or homeschool? Share them in the comments!

Learn more about ants

This post is part of a series on ants. Join us here and on Pinterest and Twitter to learn more about these fascinating creatures!

Teaching Parallel Circuits to Your Students

Parallel Circuits

To start, we need to define current and voltage:

  • Current is the rate (or speed) at which the electrons are flowing through the circuit and is measured in amperes (Amps).
  • Voltage is technically the electrical potential difference between the beginning and end of a circuit….or simply, the force at which the current travels through the circuit. Voltage is measured in Volts (joules/coulomb).

We are going to start with the simple circuit we created in a previous post (connect the alligator clip to negative side of battery, then connect to knife switch, knife switch to lamp holder, lamp holder to positive side of battery).

Now let’s make some modifications and create a parallel circuit. In a parallel circuit, the voltage stays constant in each branch of the circuit.

Creating a Parallel Circuit

Using our simple circuit with the knife switch in the upright position, we are going to add another load (light) and create a parallel circuit.

  1. Take a wire with alligator clips and attach to one side of the existing lamp holder.
  2. Using a separate wire, attach one end to the other side of the existing lamp holder (*note: there will be 2 clips attached to each side of the existing lamp holder).
  3. Take the ends of the two wires that are free and clip one to each side of a new lamp holder with light bulb. When the knife switch is closed, both lights illuminate.

In a parallel circuit, the voltage stays constant in each branch of the circuit. So, using a 1.5V battery, both bulbs are receiving 1.5V of electricity. This is the reason both light bulbs have the same brightness. If you measured the current, you will find that the current is divided into each branch. Therefore, if 10 amps of current were flowing through the circuit, each light (or branch of the parallel circuit) would be receiving 5 amps of electricity. Adding the amount of current in each branch together, will give the total amount of current introduced into the circuit.

Now you’re well equipped to teach your students all about parallel circuits. Amazon has a many experiments to teach and explain how circuits work. Check out Energy Ball and Energy Stick.

Teaching the butterfly life cycle

This roundup of resources may help you teach the butterfly life cycle, whether you’re in a classroom, in a homeschool, or encouraging your child’s interests.

Butterfly Student Kit. Hands-on is the best way to learn and this particular activity is absolutely fascinating.

Butterfly life cycle model.

Our own articles on butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly Manual, with lesson plans and activities for K-12 students.

Butterfly anatomy worksheet.

Butterfly life cycle mini-book.

Basic butterfly life cycle printable.

Steps to a Successful Science Fair Project

Science fair project

8 steps to a successful science fair project. Photo by terren.

  • Did the student learn something from the project?
  • Did the student follow the scientific method to complete the experiment?

If the answer to each these questions is yes, then the student was successful. Let me give you 8 steps to a Successful Science Fair Project.

  1. The first and most important step is the Selection of a Topic. The topic should be of interest to the student and selected prior to designing the science fair project. Example topics could include oceanography, basketball, ballet, sharks, micro-organisms, magnets, etc.
  2. The second step involves some creativity. At this point, you must ask a question about your topic that can be answered in an experiment. For example, if the topic was micro-organisms, the question might be, “What surface in my house contains the most bacteria?”
  3. Next, you must research the topic and discover background information that will be useful for your experiment. In order to answer the question above, you would need to know how to grow bacteria, how to take samples, optimum growth temperature, safety procedures, where do bacteria grow, etc.
  4. Then, you need to take the question from step 2 and reword it, so that, a purpose statement is created. From the question we created in step 2, our purpose statement could be, “The purpose of my experiment is to determine which surface in my home contains the most bacteria.”
  5. Now take the purpose of your experiment and develop a hypothesis. The hypothesis is an educated guess as to the outcome of your experiment. Your hypothesis could be, “My hypothesis is that the toilet seat has the most bacteria.” Don’t ever change your hypothesis. Your hypothesis is based on your research and knowledge. If the experiment disproves your hypothesis, that is OK. An incorrect hypothesis does not make an unsuccessful project.
  6. Design the experiment. This is where most people start. Never start with the experiment, because many times the outcome is know. Learning and using the scientific method is the most important part. During this step, you will determine the materials needed, explain the procedure, collect data and record results.
  7. Draw a conclusion. The conclusion is simply, “Was my hypothesis correct or incorrect?” Your conclusion might be, “In conclusion, my hypothesis was incorrect, the kitchen sink was actually the area that contained the most bacteria.”
  8. The final step is to make an attractive science fair display. You should have label headings, such as, Purpose, Hypothesis, Materials, Procedure, Data/Results, Conclusion. Display part of your experiment. If parts of the experiment are not able to be displayed, use photos that explain your procedure and results.