Science project

Digging in the Dark

Research Questions:

Will ants dig more effectively in the dark or the light—or a natural cycle of the two?

Ants are everywhere around the world. They are social insects that live in a highly organized community and nesting architecture. Among the worker ants’ duties is tunneling to create chambers in the intricate, interconnecting structure.

The independent variable is the amount of light that the ant colony is exposed to during its digging session. The dependent variable is the rate at which ants dig based on light and dark. The constants include the conditions of the ant environment.


  • Three ant observatories. (These can be bought or built at home.)
  • A collection of ants.
  • Logbook.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Plant 25 ants in each observatory.

  2. Place one observatory in a dark place.

  3. Place one observatory in constant light.

  4. Place one observatory in a spot where it will get 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.

  5. Observe the three observatories at the same time each day and record the progress of tunnels.

  6. At the end of a week or 10 days, make conclusions about the environment that is most conducive for ants’ productivity.

A simple logbook will record observations over time:



Half & Half


Minor digging.

Several tunnels begun.

Several tunnels begun.


Digging continues, but rate too shallow to measure.

Tunnels progress at depth of .8 mm.

Tunnels progress at .5 mm.


Tunnels dug to .5 mm.

Tunnels dug to 1.5 mm.

Tunnels dug to .8 mm.







A line graph can record the depth of the ants’ activity over time:



Terms/Concepts: Division of labor; Drones; Communal living


1. Ant, John Woodward (2010).

2. National Geographic Readers: Ants, Melissa Stewart (2010).

3. Pest World for Kids: Ants

Disclaimer and Safety Precautions provides the Science Fair Project Ideas for informational purposes only. does not make any guarantee or representation regarding the Science Fair Project Ideas and is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, caused by your use of such information. By accessing the Science Fair Project Ideas, you waive and renounce any claims against that arise thereof. In addition, your access to's website and Science Fair Project Ideas is covered by's Privacy Policy and site Terms of Use, which include limitations on's liability.

Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items