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3rd Grade – How Many Ants?

Posted in 3rd Grade, and Kingdom Animalia

Third graders are beginning their individual animal reports. In the science lab our first animal lesson is about ants, and how scientists learn about the large numbers of animals that live in colonies. How would a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies ants, get an estimate of the number of ants that live in this colony? Sampling is the answer.  They count small samples of the ants, determine how many potential sampling squares there are, and multiply to get the total population size.

Students received a worksheet showing a large group of ants.  Their job was to come up with a total number without actually counting all of the ants.  They took five square samples and counted the ants in each square.  They calculated the sum of the samples and then the mean number of ants per sample.

Students who missed science lab before winter break should do this first part of the activity at home to catch up, steps 1-4. Use a calculator for step 4. Next class they’ll determine how many squares it takes to contain the whole set of ants on the page, and the final total number.

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