Cylindrical Ant Farm and Ecosystem Investigation (Grade 7)

Grade: Seven

Topic: Understanding life systems interactions in the environment

Design Challenge and Investigation: Students will research, design, and build a cylindrical ant farm. They will use their ant farms to conduct an investigation of interactions within its ecosystem. Students will learn and use vocabulary such as sustainability, biotic, abiotic, ecosystem, community, population, and producer. Students will present or submit a report on their progress through the Technological Problem Solving Process and their investigation of their ant farm ecosystems.

OCTE 2012 – Elementary Conference Workshops

Sample ant farm


  • CSA approved safety glasses/goggles, one pair per person (parent volunteers included);
  • an approved eyewash station; this can be two eyewash bottles containing approved eyewash fluid that has not reached its expiry time limit after decanting, or an installed system (an actual eyewash station, or approved faucet attachment)
  • a first aid kit (please see your Board's Health and Safety Regulations if one is being purchased for your classroom);
  • pointed scissors, to start holes pop bottles and cut them; SAFETY NOTE when students are poking holes in their pop bottles to start their cuts make sure they understand that force must be applied to the point of the scissors in a manner that will direct it away from all their body parts, and anyone else, if the scissors slip (one pair for every two projects - students can use their own scissors for this task);
  • one ruler per project.


  • one clear 2L pop bottle per project;
  • one smaller container that will fit inside the 2L bottle per project (e.g., a tin can, a 1L plastic bottle etc.);
  • one white plastic bag, or sufficient black material/paper to cover the inner bottle (creates contrast to help view the tunnels);
  • two sheets of black paper per project (to make an outside cover for the 2L bottle - darkness simulates underground conditions);
  • glue (to glue the black paper cover together);
  • one pail of sand per class;
  • one funnel for every 5 projects (small tip, wide top);
  • 1m of packing tape per project;
  • one push pin for every 3 projects;
  • ants 30-60 per project (to keep costs down have students gather their own, if this is not possible, they can be purchased from Canadian suppliers)