Ants might regularly go unnoticed in our world (unless there’s a heap of them in our pantry – yikes) but they make a great experiment for kids!
Take the time to watch them with your kids and you will learn a lot about their above-ground operations.
Of course, we can learn about the underground operations too, but this investigation will focus on what they do in the light and specifically, what food they’re attracted to.
Ants are important; they keep the environment in balance. Many animals, like ant lions, echidnas, and frogs eat them. They are also great scavengers, clearing the world of dead animals or crumbs left behind from a picnic in the park.
So, here’s an ant experiment that’s interesting and enjoyable for adults and children alike.
Fun Ant Experiment for Kids
It’s important that children be supervised at all times during this experiment. Ants can bite and precautions should be made to ensure your child does not get bitten.
Do not touch ants and make sure your feet are covered with closed-in shoes.
What do you need?
- Download the ant experiment sheet below
Ant Experiment how-to
Discuss the experiment with you child. The objective of this is experiment is to find out what food the ant likes best out of the food below.
Hypothesis: What foods do ants like most?
1st Food: Honey
2nd Food: Broccoli
3rd Food: Bread
Questions before you start the experiment
Ask your child these questions:
- Which food do you think the ants will be attracted to?
- What do you think the ants will do once they find a food they like?
- Find some ants.
- Place the different food types beside the ants.
- Check the food at 15 minutes and 30 minute sessions and document your findings on the observation sheet.
Questions to ask during the experiment
- How many ants are around each bit of food?
- What are they doing with the food?
Questions to ask after the experiment
- Which food was the ants’ favourite?
- Why do you think it was the ants’ favourite?
- Do you think there was anything that might have made the experiment biased? E.g. positions of the food?
We concluded that ants:
- like honey best of all the food
- weren’t very interested in the broccoli, first just touching it and then walking away (who can blame them?)
- were least interested in the water
- liked the bread but not as much as the honey – few ants started carrying a little piece of bread away but most ants stayed around the honey
It was curious watching the ants that swarmed around the honey.
Most types of ants are attracted to anything that is sweet, so even if there is a drop of honey or little jam on the floor, ants will get attracted towards it. Ants are such sweet addicts that they experience an almost magnetic pull towards jam in the sandwich, honey, sugar, lemonade, etc. (Buzzle, November 2011)
Why not try a similar ant experiment for kids using sweet and salty foods?