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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Lesson of the Day: ‘Let Us Now Praise Tiny Ants’

If you can’t find ants where you live, you might watch them online on the Iowa State University Insect Zoo Ant Cam.

Then, respond to the following prompts:

  • What do you notice? What interesting behavior or patterns did you observe?

  • What do you wonder? What further questions about ants and their behavior arose from your observations?

Finally, review your observation notes and then formulate an “investigable question”; develop a hypothesis or design an experiment for further study.

Option 2: Watch a ScienceTake video.

How do ants avoid traffic jams? Why do ants go to war? What makes them such good architects?

From 2013 to 2019, The Times regularly published weekly ScienceTake videos, short films that combined cutting-edge research from the world of science with stunning footage of the natural world in action. Over this span, The Times created nearly a dozen films on ants. Choose one film to watch below and then respond to the following prompts:

What new things did you learn about ants? What moments stood out? What did you find most fascinating or surprising? How did the video add to or change your understanding or perspective on the life and behavior of ants? What questions do you still have about the tiny creatures we share our world with?

Option 3: “Let Us Now Praise Other Small Things” — photograph something overlooked because of its size.

What things do you take for granted because of their size or ubiquity — sidewalks and roads, telephone or electrical lines, the blades of grass beneath your feet, the clusters of clouds above you?

Photograph something around you that is overlooked because of its physical size or distance. Just as Mr. Niga does with his photos of ants, consider how you can make the familiar unfamiliar, the strange intimate or the ordinary extraordinary.

Then, add some supporting and explanatory text: What is it about the size or distance of these objects that makes them easy to overlook? What role do they play in your life and in our world? Why should we stop to notice and appreciate them?

The answers to the Warm-Up quiz: 1) d; 2) d; 3) b; 4) c; 5) c

Learn more about Lesson of the Day here and find all of our daily lessons in this column.

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