If you’ve ever felt like your home is crowded, imagine what it must be like for ants. They live in anthills, which have rows and rows of tiny underground tunnels. For your usual North American ant, about 4,000 ants can live in a colony that’s just 5 feet deep. The pile of dirt you see in the grass is just the tippy top of that anthill: it’s the leftover dirt that the worker ants dug out from below. In this video sent by Bedtime Math fan Tyger W., a guy poured molten (melted) aluminum down an anthill hole to see what would happen. The metal filled up all the little tunnels and then cooled into a giant chunk. As he digs out the huge anthill and rinses it off, we see what the inside of an anthill looks like. It’s like a crazy mini-apartment building! We can’t even try to count all those little hallways, but there’s a lot of other math to check out.
Wee ones: Who has more legs, you or an ant? An ant is an insect, so it has 6 legs…
Little kids: How many more legs than you does an ant have? Bonus: If this anthill stuck 4 inches above ground but is 18 inches tall in total, how much of its height was hiding below ground?
Big kids: If this anthill has about 20 “stories” (layers of tunnels) and 40 ants can live on each story, how many ants could have lived there? Bonus: How many more ants would need to move in to reach 4,000 ants? (Hint if needed: How many more would they need to reach 1,000?)
Wee ones: An ant has more legs.
Little kids: 4 more legs. Bonus: 14 inches.
Big kids: 800 ants. Bonus: 3,200 more ants.
And thank you again Tyger W. for sending us this math topic idea!