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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BJ's Ant Farm

For a Winter Break science activity, we finally got around to obtaining ants for BJ's AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm. Over the summer, we'd tried the ant farm with ants he collected, but it turns out you need a specific species, harvester ants, for it to work. The setup is pretty cool, actually. The ants live in a blue gel media which is apparently based on a 2006 NASA experiment to study ants in zero gravity. This thing was practically made to suit my kid's interests!

Here he is in his "laboratory" next to where he's going to set up the ant farm.


He was so excited when the ants arrived in our mailbox! He's showing us the little vial in which they traveled. 30 ants in there!


We put them in their new home and sealed the lid.

Wow, Mom! COOL!

BJ decided that he'd keep an Ant Journal to study his ants in their habitat. It took a day for the ants to start digging, but once they started it was quite impressive!




BJ is definitely interested in his ants (though admittedly, the arrival of the kittens has demoted their status as "pets" -- which they were called, with great excitement, when they arrived before Christmas). He told me, "Mom, this is great! When I get bored, I can just go and watch my ants!!!"

The whole thing reminded me of a book that I vividly recall from my childhood, The City Under the Back Steps, by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. Alas, it's out of print and very pricey to obtain (I suspect there might be a copy up in my parents attic, but I wasn't going to ask them to go looking for it!) so I ordered the much more reasonably priced audio CD from Chinaberry. We've been following the adventures of Jill and Craig (complete with post-listening discussions about gender stereotyping, an unexpected bonus) and I've been impressed with how well the audiobook keeps the kids' attention, not only BJ but BB as well. They were rapt throughout the entire first CD (more than 70 minutes) and today we listened to the second and third (each also a bit more than 70 minutes). First time we've tried an audiobook like this. Fascinating!

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