Why Army Ants?

Army ants are key predators on the forest floor of tropical forests around the world. Like all ants and termites, individual army ants use trail pheromones to mark trails to which they want to recruit additional colony members. However, in army ants this behavior and its emergent properties are especially accessible through modeling. We chose this context as a logical near transfer context following our honeybee study because, on the one hand, it exhibits many parallels to bee biology: both involve insects and communication among individuals to optimize resource acquisition. On the other, key differences also exist: for example, individual bees communicate information only while they dance, whereas a pheromone trail persists after the ant that produced it has left. Similarly, while flowers quickly refuel with nectar, forest floor prey requires days or weeks to regain harvestable levels. Because army ants have to go on daily hunts, they utilize additional mechanisms including an internal compass, to minimize overlap between forages.

AntSim Teaching Resources

AntSim Full TG

Student Notebook: 15-Day Curriculum

Student Notebook: 10-Day Curriculum

The AntSim Full Guide provides classroom teachers with background information on army ants, technical information on the ant puppets, and the different aspects of AntSim Simulation software. In addition, a day-by-day guide makes it easy to implement AntSim in the classroom. Appendices contain handouts and other materials to extend learning in the classroom when AntSim is done. My Ant Guide is a student notebook, designed to bring scientific note taking into the project.

AntSim Facilitator Guide: 15-Day

AntSim Facilitator Guide: 10-Day

BioSim is a research project designed to compare different ways of teaching complex science concepts to very young children. The guides above were created for facilitators of this research, and are available in two versions that have been designed with different research purposes in mind. A 10-day version works best following BeeSim or for teachers who need to complete the project in less time. A longer, 15-day version, expands on the systems-thinking concepts in a more detailed way and can be implemented without completing the BeeSim unit first. Either curriculum provides the same systems thinking and ant ecology concepts required for the research.

Army Ant Flashcards

Sorting Cards and Badges

The addition of AntSim Flashcards provides facilitators with a means of reviewing important systems thinking, insect biology, and army ant lifecycle information. And the Army Ant Sorting Badges make creating small groups, colonies, and teams easy while ensuring that every student gets called on in a fair manner. Look for references to both these supplements within the teacher and facilitator guides.

Classroom Videos

Ants Following a Pheromone Trail
Click on this video to project in the classroom:

Images for Projection

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Gallery images found at: