When we were hanging on the porch one afternoon, John observed a whole crowd of ants gobbling up a popsicle drip and asked me what kind of food ants like. Well, that question became the impetus for the entire project...What sugar do ants prefer?
We started by researching some basic facts about both ants and different types of sugar on the internet. The key things we learned were:
- Ants like sweets and can smell sugar from far away. Sugar gives them energy.
- Ants need water to survive. They get some water from the food they eat.
- Brown sugar has more molasses syrup in it than the other sugars.
After talking through these facts (and a few others) with John, we coached him into making a hypothesis - Ants will prefer brown sugar. Our assumptions:
- Ants can smell really well and brown sugar smells stronger than the other sugars.
- Ants need water and brown sugar has more syrup in it than other sugars.
- Brown sugar is small enough for ants to easily carry.
After school one day we set to work on the project. We looked through the pantry and came up with six different sugars to test: white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, stevia, splenda and sprinkles.
1. Write sugar names on the plates.
2. Put 2 teaspoons of each sugar out on the plates.
3. Leave plates outside where you have seen ants.
4.Count the number of ants on each plate at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour and 1 day.
With 132 ants on the plate after one day of measuring, as expected, brown sugar was most preferred by our ants! Powdered sugar was a close second.
The PCP was thrilled to show off his work to the school and told me on the way out that we need to start deciding what to study next year. I’m thinking we should at least take the weekend off :-)