New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Ants in a drought

Team: 36

School: Jackson Middle School

Area of Science: Biology

Interim: Team number: 36
School name: Jackson Middle School
Area of science: Biology
Project title: Ants in a drought

Problem definition:

Biology in the ants area is quite complicated. We have researched much in this area of science and have found about one-third of the information we expected to get so far. It’s much easier when we work with netlogo and mess with the code to see what it will do to the ants. The ants have definitely been affected by the way that we set up the netlogo, size, color, and shape-wise.
The goal of this project is to figure out how ants can be affected by drought and food issues. The information we have recorded is incredible beyond what we thought capable of ants. In 1993, Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford University assistant professor of biological sciences says, “I’m interested in the kind of system where simple units together do behave in complicated ways.” She was wanting to find exactly how ant brains work, as do we.

Problem Solution:

We will research on exactly how smart ants are, and how ants can survive such extreme conditions. Finding a good fact, we will research more on it and find more information about it. The ants must be intelligent, so that we can test how they work in a complicated way. We are going to change the different food and size effects in the ants program, so that we can figure out how well ants can respond to different challenges they face up against. The ants will have to face against food issues, and sizes, and how much water is actually around. If effective, the ants will properly respond to the challenges given to them.

Progress to date:

Worker ants collect nectar and honey dew, which is stored in their stomachs until they reach their nests. There it is distributed by regurgitation to their larvae and sister ants. Some of the individuals serve as a storage caste; they take in large quantities of honey, which is kept undigested in a part of the abdomen known as the gaster. These individuals, known as repletes, cling to the ceiling of the nest and serve as living storage pots. During drought when foraging ants can’t find food, they solicit food from the repletes.
There are around 34 different species of honey pot ants. They all share the ability to store large amounts of nutritious liquid in the larger workers ‘repletes’. During the rainy seasons the repletes are fed so much that they swell up and become living underground refrigerators, some can become so large that it’s impossible to leave their nest. The food is stored for the whole colony and is used during the dry seasons when food is not so plentiful. These ants hold so many nutrients and energy that they have become a favored food for many other animals including humans.
Some Myrmecocystus species have been known to attack other colonies of the same species, kill their queen and take the workers as their slaves!
A few honey pot ant species are known to change colors such as green, orange, red, blue and yellow. These fantastic ants can be seen in zoos around the world.
This is information on honeypot ants that we have gathered over the past few weeks, that we have reviewed and decided against different information.

Expected results:

After programming, testing, and refining of the ants program, we will expect to have results that show that ants have a brain capacity that of pigs, which are not too far behind humans. And we will expect that ants have passed the tests we have put against them. We are going to expect that the ants have not fallen behind on the expectations we have set. We hope to accomplish what we are working towards to get what we work for.


Team Members: Victoria May, Reyanna Fromme

Sponsoring teacher: Karen Glennon

Team Members:

  Victoria May
  reyanna fromme

Sponsoring Teacher: Karen Glennon

Mail the entire Team

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