Ant Picnic Data Analysis

Grades 6 – 12

2-3 hours

Biology / Math / Statistics

Download as PDF

Introduction to Ant Picnic Data Analysis

About this activity

When someone conducts an experiment they always collect and record data. For instance, when they count how many drops it takes for a solution to change color, how many nuts a squirrel hides in a day, or how many ants come to a certain food type then they are doing an experiment. The data alone is not quite enough to answer the research question but rather the data needs to be analyzed. For instance, if the question was whether squirrels hide more nuts on a cold day or a warm day, then you need to add up the nuts hidden per day, calculate an average of the nuts per day and compare the average number of nuts collected on a cold day to the average on a warm day.

In this activity students can try their hand at analyzing data using an interactive online platform called CODAP (Common Online Data Analysis Platform). The activity is directly related to the Ant Picnic lesson. Students can explore an existing data set collected by scientists around the world or they can add their own Ant Picnic data and use this online tool to compare it to the existing global data set. CODAP allows students to create and analyze tables and graphs and draw conclusions to answer their own research questions.

Curriculum alignment

  • Middle School Next Generation Science Standards Alignment
    MS-LS2-1; MS-LS2-2; MS-LS2-4; MS-LS4-4

  • North Carolina Essential Standards Alignment (Science)
    6.L.2.3; 8.L.3; 8.L.3.1

  • North Carolina Essential Standards Alignment (Math, 2018-19 implementation)
    NC.6.SP.1; NC.6.SP.2; NC.6.SP.3; NC.6.SP.4; NC.6.SP.5; NC.7.SP.1; NC.7.SP.3; NC.7.SP.4; NC.8.SP.1; NC.8.SP.2

Here’s what you’ll need

Optional Extension Activities


Step 1
Step 1

Step 1

Introduction to CODAP -- Watch CODAP Tutorial video with students.

Step 2
Step 2

Step 2

Distribute "My Ant Picnic Data Analysis" Activity Sheet. The activity sheet is divided into 3 parts; each part teaches a specific skill:

Allow time for students to complete the activity sheet (Part 1 & 2 ~45 min, Part 3 ~ 1 hr). Every student will need access to CODAP during this step.

Artwork by Emilia Rubæk Holm & Magdalena Sorger © Natural History Museum of Denmark

Step 3
Step 3

Step 3

OPTIONAL -- If students have completed the Ant Picnic experiment: Let students enter their own Ant Picnic data in CODAP and allow them to answer their your own research questions by comparing their data to the global data set already in CODAP.

Artwork by Emilia Rubæk Holm © Natural History Museum of Denmark

Before you start (some helpful hints)

  • This activity works best when combined with the Ant Picnic lesson. It will also allow students to enter and compare their own ant picnic results to global data in CODAP. If you have not completed the Ant Picnic lesson, it might be helpful to watch the videos on the Ant Picnic website with your students.

  • Computers with large screens will work better – will eliminate excessive scrolling!

  • Please note that the CODAP website may load slowly depending on the speed of your computer and internet connection. If any section of the main interface appears blank, reload or reopen the page.

  • CODAP allows the sorting of columns (ascending/descending) by double clicking on the column title. Please, DO NOT USE THIS FUNCTION! It does not work properly and corrupts the data beyond repair. If a student uses this function and cannot undo it, they will need to return to the original CODAP link.

Ant Picnic Data Analysis downloads at a glance

Lesson PDF
Student Activity Sheet
Student Activity Sheet Answer Key

Optional extensions:

Enter Ant Picnic Data in CODAP
Biomes Activity Sheet + Fact Sheet
Presentation Guide + Rubric

Optional mini lessons:

Orientation to Graphs
Reading Data Stories
Asking Scientific Questions

About the Scientists

Magda SorgerDr. Magdalena Sorger is a postdoctoral researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science. She’s an evolutionary ecologist interested in the diversity, distribution, and behavior of ants and other insects. More on her website

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Kristin Bedell is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina School of Education. She is interested in how students make sense of their worlds through science.

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Other Ant Activities

Ant Picnic Lesson

Other Resources

Ant ID Keys
Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants
Myrmex Comic
Discover ANTS Website

Project Kenan Fellows

Pictured (from left to right): Dr. Magdalena Sorger, Michelle Hafey, Paige Derouin, Dr. DeAnna Beasley and Maggie McKinley.

About the SciArt

buzz_hoot_roar Students Discover SciArt is created by Buzz Hoot Roar, the amazing team that brings science to life in their graphics-driven science blog.

About the Artist

Caitlin AtteberryCaitlin Atteberry is a graphic designer based in Raleigh, NC. Find Caitlin’s other work conveniently at

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2018-04-19T18:21:13+00:00February 15th, 2018|Biology, Citizen Science, Data Analysis, Entomology, Nutrition, Urban Ecology|