Currie Lab

Outreach: Education

PBS Learning Media: Leaf-Cutter Ants, A Farming Super-Organism

Learn how a colony of leaf-cutter ants grows food and maintains the colony in the video from NATURE: Animal Homes.

PBS Learning Media

fANTastic farmers

fANTastic farmers: a game based on the true-life adventures of leaf-cutter ants
Developed by Gina Lewin and Heidi Horn

This game allows children to experience the challenges of forming a successful leaf-cutter ant colony. The game teaches about the ecology of leaf-cutter ants, symbiosis, and evolution. Specifically, the goals of the game are to (1) demonstrate the pressures an organism faces in its niche and the difficulty of survival; (2) teach about the complexity of social organisms; and (3) teach about the interactions between organisms in an ecosystem. It is aimed for elementary school children, but can be adapted for different ages. The game takes ~5 minutes to play per group of 2-6, and we have 3 game boards total.

We have provided the four main parts of our game: the board, colony cards, Darwin cards, and a spinner. We made queen ant game pieces from sculpey clay and small pieces of wire, but any sort of game pieces will work.

Download:, (148M)

Bioprospecting for Cellulose-Degrading Microbes: Filter Paper Assay Method

This classroom activity challanges students to explore how we can impove biofuels by finding and studying microbes in the environment that degrade plant material. These materials were developed by our lab in collaboration with Craig Kohn through the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center's Research Experiece for Teachers.

Classroom materials and related videos are available at

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1550 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
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Lab phone: (608) 890-0237
Fax: (608) 262-9865