School of Ants

School of Ants

North Carolina State University's School of Ants project is a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating—teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that NCSU researchers can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside our doorsteps. The maps created with these data are telling the researchers quite a lot about native and introduced ants in cities, not just in North Carolina, but across the United States and, as this project grows, about the ants of the world.

Starting this fall, citizen scientists will be able to view their sampling location on an interactive map with a species list generated from your collected samples. In the meantime, NCSU researchers are sorting and identifying the ants in all of these samples.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andrea Lucky, Postdoctoral Researcher
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Dunn Lab, North Carolina State University
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Visit the project's Web site or e-mail them at if you want to know more. Participants are sent one or more sampling kits after signing up. When you have collected your sample you then send the kit back to the School of Ants researchers.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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