Ants are a great insect to use as a test subject in a biology science fair project. They are easy to find and they are easy to handle. In this sample project students will be manipulating the amount of light that ants are exposed to in order to see if light impacts how fast ants dig.
In this science fair project the hypothesis is that ants dig faster when they are in the dark. The dependent variable in this hypothesis is the rate at which ants dig and the independent variable is the amount of light that the ant is exposed to during their digging session. It is important to note that a non-venomous ant species be used, such as a sugar ant.
This science fair project will need an ant-farm set-up. Students can purchase an ant farm or they can develop their own using a glass container filled 75 percent of the way with native soil. Students will also need a test population of ants. Ants can be purchased from a science store or collected out on the schools playground. You can set traps for ants using cut apples. Just set the apple on the ground and wait until ants cover it. Then pick up the apple pieces, with the ants and place them in your container.
The control experiment will provide the ants with a natural light source. Students may want to use a video camera with a digital timer display to monitor the ants digging progress.
The test experiment will involve several test groups. The first test group will be exposed to no light at all, an infrared camera will be used to monitor their digging progress. The second test group will be exposed to dim light. The final test group will be exposed to bright artificial light.
Data Collection and Analysis
The data that will be collected will be measurements of digging per time period. The students will want to determine how long of a tunnel is dug in a minute, in an hour or in a day for each lighting situation. To determine the rate of digging the student will create a ratio of millimeters dug per minute.
The analysis of this data will be fairly easy to complete. The students will just need to determine which lighting set-up produced the fastest rate of digging, or the highest number of millimeters per second (on average). To prove the hypothesis could be true students will need to find a trend where ants dig faster in darker conditions then they do in lighter conditions. If this is not observed then the hypothesis will be proven to be false.