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Music Education for Children

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Music Education for Children
Music Education for Children

Music Education for Children

The music begins

When you bring home the… guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, fill in your choice, there is a look of awe and wonder in their eyes. They can’t wait to get their little paws on the thing. Even as you are explaining how to handle the instrument, they are blocking out your annoying parental tones and grabbing for it; ready to rock. They proudly boast to anyone who will listen, that they are taking music lessons. The lessons begin and they can’t wait to show you the first three notes they learned on the first day. To you, it is the sound of brilliance in the making. You want anyone who will listen to join in celebrating the best three notes of music ever played. Out comes the video phone and soon your little Mozart, your Louis Armstrong, your Taylor Swift is on facebook and youtube. (Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube, after all).

But then there’s homework
“I’ll practice everyday”, is what you were promised; as your little angel pleaded in the store. However, beyond practicing, your child must learn music theory. It starts to resemble school. None of their friends have to endure this abuse. Your little Mozart becomes distracted, and the resistance begins: “do I have to practice?”, “I’ll practice later“, “I’ve practiced enough.” Eventually there is the inevitable ear crunching, heart shredding: I HATE PRACTICING. I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THIS STUPID INSTRUMENT. I’M QUITTING! You cringe as you consider the monetary investment. You argue, demand and threaten until eventually Mozart marches to the instrument and defiantly slams out the assigned music 10 times faster than it’s meant to be played. You begin to weaken: does the world really need another piano player? Will the world end if Suzie is not strumming her way through it?

Do you give up or do you go on?

Consider this: I’ve never met an adult who could play an instrument who said, “I wish I didn’t know how to play…” the violin, sitar, bagpipes, harp, etc. There are two things I have heard: “I’m glad my parents made me stay with it” and “I wish my parents had made me stay with it”.

My stepson is the inspiration for this article. Like his father, he is a drummer. Because of dad, he started younger than most. He was banging on his first drum at one and was responsible for a daily drum practice at three. 15 minutes was all I required; at seven it became 30 minutes. I was the bad guy. I insisted, I pushed, at times I wavered, but endured. He’s 12 now and loves being a drummer; loves being the kid at school who did drum solos for talent shows. A year ago he made the mistake of showing potential on the piano…and so, once more, the cycle began. However, for the most part, we have made it to the other side. My stepson is now aware of his talent and sees himself as a musician. The practices come easier these days and more often than not, unsolicited.

The benefits
Playing a musical instrument develops self esteem, social skills, promotes brain development and can even keep your child from abusing drugs and alcohol. I see discipline, confidence and creativity in my stepson that has been enhanced by music. Please visit: www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/benefits.html. (no apostrophe s) There you will find videos as well as the results of studies, showing how children succeed in school and in life because of music.
It’s a personal decision whether or not to force your child to stick with an instrument. I recommend enduring. The battle may be long; I stuck with it for years, but you’ll see great things develop in your child and they’ll even thank you for making them stay the course; one day…

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Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety
Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Tragedy in Mount Vernon led to the creation of The Amy Center and tragedy keeps it in business, but Director Ladonna Richards finds comfort in the fact that the center is educating people and helping children.

The Amy Center is one of only six child advocacy centers in Southern Illinois and it was the first in the region. Named for then 10-year-old Amy Schulz who was raped, sodomized and murdered, The Amy Center serves seven counties around Mount Vernon and more than 200 children a year.

Schulz’ father Dennis and State Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Centralia) began the center in 1990. Last year, the center served 238 children. Of that, 128 required forensic interviews, the interview to determine if they have been sexually abused.

Richards said this year, the center is on pace to surpass that mark, having already done more than 100 forensic interviews. “We only take referrals from the Department of Child and Family services and from law enforcement, so that cuts our numbers down some,” she said.

The expense of exams and interviews, as well as the likelihood of false accusations, is why the center chooses not to accept private referrals. “We let the investigators who are trained do the actual investigating and determine if there is enough information to warrant our involvement,” she said.

The center simply cannot cover any more area because children and their representatives are having to travel so long to the very emotional and difficult interviews. “We just can’t ask people to drive an hour and a half to put them through this,” she said. “Some of our counties are more than an hour away.”

That creates a problem because there is a strip of counties across central Illinois without any advocacy centers for the children. In those cases, law enforcement officials simply call the nearest center and beg for help. “We cover them when we can,” she said.

The Amy Center began with a single forensic investigator and now has three trained investigators on staff, both because of the client load and to give investigator’s a break between cases.

Richards said as one of the investigators, she finds the job difficult but rewarding. “When you see that look on a child’s face that says they trust you and know you are there to help them, it’s worth every second of the effort,” she said. Sometimes, that means children open up enough to reveal the details of the abuse. Other times, it means they open enough to show that there isn’t any abuse happening.

The center video tapes, through hidden cameras almost like nanny-cams, the interview sessions and provides a dvd copy of the interview to local authorities for use in the case. Center personnel also help prepare children when they will be forced to testify in court and attends court hearings with the children.

“The one thing we don’t do is counseling. We believe that someone needs to be very specialized to counsel children after they have been abused and we refer to outside agencies, as close to their home community as we can,” she said.

The center also provides community education regarding potential sexual abuse and helps teach children to identify abuse. “We teach good touch, bad touch, but also good touch, confusing touch,” she said.

The difference is that some forms of abuse begin as touches that don’t fit the classic definition of “bad touch”, but make the child confused or uncomfortable. Through school visits, the center helps children from preschool age to sixth grade identify and appropriately confront things that make them uncomfortable, she said.

“The problem is, we aren’t even getting into all the schools in our area and it’s still a two year rotation,” she said. The center also offers a pre-dating safety class for children in seventh and eighth grade, covering issues like date rape drugs and how drugs use and alcohol use can affect the decisions a person makes about their sexuality. At first, Richards said, the center stuck to public schools, but then found that children in the parochial schools needed the lessons as well.

“We’re also finding that by seventh and eighth grade, we’re sometimes too late. We find that a lot of children are already sexually active at that age,” she said.

The Amy Center is funded almost entirely through grants, with some support coming from local donations. Usually, the donations come in the form of items the center can use, Richards said.

“WE find a lot of people know that we give the children a toy after their interview, so we get a lot of stuffed animals,” she said. “I hate to sound ungrateful, but there are a lot of other things we could use more.”

Children visiting the center range in age from 3 to 15, she said, and the older children are mostly girls. “Sometimes, depending on who might see them, they’ll take a stuffed animal, but a lot of time we need something to give as a gift tot he older children.”

Richards suggested many of the victims come from underprivileged families and would appreciate something as simple as a bottle of lotion from Bath & Body Works at the mall. “Even a little $3 sample bottle would be something that was all theirs,” she said.

People wishing to donate items for The Amy Center may want to consider items from the following list, Richards said.
“We can always use office supplies or gift cards to Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Staples,” she said.

Other items the center frequently needs are:
Stamps
Recordable dvds
gift bags (for wrapping Christmas presents)
school supplies/book bags
toiletries suitable for pre-teens and young teenagers
“Really, what we are lacking the most if small gift items that will appeals to 10 to 15 year olds, mostly girls,” Richards said.
To donate, contact the center at (618) 244-2100.

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Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?
Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

The Apple iPad has, in many ways, revolutionized consumer technology. People like the iPad because it allows for myriad content mediums to be enjoyed in a very portable package. Schools are quickly jumping on the tablet bandwagon and discussing whether something like the iPad could replace computer labs and laptops. Before making this type of move, schools must consider a number of factors.

Cost considerations

The iPad is more affordable than other Apple products, such as laptops and desktops. However, schools can still get some PC-based computers for less money than an iPad. Computers aren’t as trendy anymore, but as an educational device they are in many ways just as functional. In addition, the use of iPads may also require a certain amount of software, networking and support. With portable devices, schools also have to think about damage and theft, which can be a major problem at larger schools.

Consumption versus production

One major challenge with something like an iPad is that it is really designed as a consumption device rather than a production device. In other words, the iPad is better for reading and viewing than it is for writing and creating. Students can certainly produce a wide diversity of content just by manipulating data around the touch screen. However, due to the software limits of many apps, that content may be more rudimentary than documents produced on a computer. I have found success in producing content on an iPad, but I still prefer a standard computer or laptop for some projects. Future students may be more comfortable with a tablet, but I don’t see them being able to overcome certain software limitations.

Curricular infusion

One of the major challenges faced by schools is how to incorporate the iPad into the curriculum. At best the iPad can augment good teaching and get students excited about a particular subject. At worst, the tablet can be a distraction that does not provide the depth of content needed for the classroom. Teachers must find appropriate materials that allow for actual learning, as opposed to simply using a device because it is there. Textbooks on an iPad can be expensive, and not every subject will seamlessly integrate with this technology. I have seen some educational apps that look very exciting, while others are a bit cumbersome. Such is the nature of technology, even technology that comes in a shiny package.

Accessories

There is also the reality that purchasing an iPad is not just about acquiring the device. There are also accessories such as keyboards, cases, cables, apps and networking hardware. This can add to the cost and put a strain on technology budgets. Therefore, schools must realize that they are making a bigger commitment than just the device. If schools sign up with a company like Apple, they are deciding to do business with a unique type of company for potentially a long time.

Future trends

The iPad is very popular right now, but there is no guarantee that this will always be the case. Just a few years ago schools were scrambling to build computer labs, which were followed by carts full of laptops. The iPad is compact and versatile, but it also has some limits. Before schools rush to purchase a large number of iPads, they should honesty assess the pro and cons, and avoid getting lost in the hype of new technology. As a consumer and an educator, I do like the iPad a great deal. It is powerful, versatile, and easy to carry around to a variety of settings. However, it has limits, and I think schools have to be careful that they do not sacrifice productivity for popularity.

The author teaches at the college level and prior to entering the classroom he spent many years in higher education administration. On occasion he also enjoys the pure entertainment of substitute teaching at the high school and middle school levels.

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First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

Posted by Rachel Evans on
First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

The House of Representatives recently voted to cut the Pell Grant budget by $5.7 billion, approving a bill that makes over $61 billion in budget cuts to various areas. The Senate will vote on the issue soon. Each student’s Pell Grant amount will be reduced by an average of $754 per grant if the bill is passed. This will have a huge impact on many students and universities.

As a student, this bill scares me. I recently left active-duty military service and joined the Reserves. I have an Associate’s Degree from a local community college, and two more from the Community College of the Air Force. However, I want to finish my Bachelor’s Degree, even though my civilian career is going well. I began college classes at American Military University in the fall of 2009, and am about nine classes from degree completion. In addition, my husband retired from active-duty military service in December 2010 and began working toward his Bachelor’s Degree at AMU. He has an Associate’s Degree in the Ford ASSET program and is pursuing his degree in Human Resource Management.

I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill, which helps pay my tuition. With being in school full-time and taking four classes per semester, three semesters per year, I rely on Pell Grants to help pay the rest of my tuition and fees and keep me afloat from semester to semester. My husband also receives tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits, but needs his Pell Grant to enable him to work a lower-paying, less-stressful federal government job while he attends school.

If our Pell Grants are cut, we will have to work more, take more student loans out, and sacrifice more to finish our degrees. The stress level is at an all-time high with two adults working full-time and attending school full-time, and two grade-school aged children in the house. If we lose even a portion of our Pell Grants, one or both of us will have to drop out of classes.

The economy in our country is in dire straits, and there is no easy solution. I am open to hear any suggestions that our lawmakers throw out, but cutting education spending is not the answer. If education funding is cut, fewer individuals will pursue higher education, and, as a result, will not be able to get better jobs. This leads to less taxes paid out, and more people needing government assistance. There has to be a better answer.

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A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

When I was a kid, we lived in a rural area; actually I still live in a rural area. My parents actually had a rotary phone and even a party line where you had to wait to use the phone if the neighbor was on the other end. Talk about the lack of privacy. So I can definitely see how technology has changed over the years.

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In fact, in the last decade, the impact technology has had on my life has been a positive experience that will last me a lifetime. I went from a dial up modem on my first computer to a Wi-Fi connection my newest computer which has given me a chance to learn and research at great speed.

The changing technology that has been developed over the last ten years has allowed me to return to college full-time; a task that I never thought I would be able to complete at this stage in my life. The great aspect of this change in technology is that I have been able to take full time classes on line through an accredited college.

In the beginning I was nervous about taking classes online, the new programs that I needed to use for the classes were intimidating. But through step by step instructions and helpful customers’ service representation, I was able to download the programs for my classes that enabled me to write papers in APA format, use a webcam for speeches and group projects as well as learn how to use video chat to communicate with my peers. I would have never thought this type of techniques could be used in such an efficient manner.

The numerous hours that I have spent on line researching for my class papers, discussion questions and whatever assignments my professors have managed to throw my way has been the best learning experience that I could ever have imagined. Researching online has been a much simpler task since the . I can find numerous peer-reviewed and scholarly articles right at my fingertips.

The change in technology has also changed education which has had an impact on my life. In fact the impact will be seen in eight weeks when I receive my MBA from Baker College. I would have never thought this would have been possible. The completion of my degree will be one of the larger goals that I can cross off my bucket list.

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The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Posted by Rachel Evans on
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Thanks to sequestration, the military has cut its budget by cutting education programs for active duty personnel. These programs could be used in military personnel’s free time to pursue college, vocational training, or even high school equivalency. Now, these programs are gone in the Marine Corps and army with the air force looking to follow suit. This is a cut that can only hurt us as a nation. This needs to be undone.

Many people who cannot otherwise afford an education join the military in order to get one. If it is available to them while they are in the service, they can take advantage of this program while remaining active duty. If they can’t, they will quit and take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill. This means that more people will quit after 4 years of service, and we will have fewer people qualified to lead. It means we have fewer combat veterans in each unit when they go into combat. Overall, it means less military readiness.

In addition, one of the benefits of military life is the ability to advance, and increase your pay grade. In order to go from enlisted to officer pay grades, you need a college degree. This means that the options to improve life are dramatically cut if we no longer provide means to get that education to our soldiers. This, again, will lead to more people leaving, and more people needing to be recruited. It will also lead to more difficulty in recruiting people if one of the major perks to service has been removed.

Finally, we are asking our soldiers to take the brunt of the punishment for our government’s inability to behave like adults and cooperate. We spend more on our military than the next 14 countries combined. Certainly we can find places to make cuts that do not ask the poor, and lower middle class soldiers to shoulder the majority of the consequences. We need to prioritize the well being of our men and women in uniform over developing new ways to destroy entire countries. If we made intelligent cuts to the military budget rather than slashing away at programs that actually help people, we would be much closer to a sustainable budget.

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Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference
Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

A free, all day conference will be hosted by Columbia University’s Morningside Campus on Friday, February 1. The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be completely free and open to the public. You can register by visiting this link nme2013.eventbrite.com. The event, in the Faculty House at Columbia University Morningside Campus is being put on by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. Those attending will likely include people from Columbia University, their technology higher education colleagues and the general public interested in the conference topic.

Columbia speakers and others are going to talk about things that affect education and technology, including online learning, digital publishing, and social media. The topic of how new media can bolster educational initiatives will also be on tap.

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Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities
Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

As the debate regarding whether or not the Republican and Democratic parties are more alike than different rages on, political pundits and private citizens in search of an answer have turned to the educational arena in an attempt to discern whether or not the two groups are ideologically aligned. While much legislation for various projects and purposes has been submitted by members of both camps, two of the most compelling acts as of late are Governor Georgia Deal’s decision to cut funding for the HOPE scholarship and President Barack Obama’s legislation limiting the amount of Pell Grant money college students can receive. An even cursory examination of this activity sends to lend credence to the notion that both parties have a proclivity for eliding the needs of individuals in need of an education to climb the socioeconomic latter. Let’s examine both cases briefly.

As many Georgians know, Republican conservative Governor Nathan Deal recently revamped the HOPE scholarship after a lack in revenue from the Georgia lottery put funding for the educational program in jeopardy. While the scholarship used to provide full university funding for students who maintained a 3.0 during high school, the revenue shortage from the loterry resulted in Deal changing the scholarship structure into a two-tier system comprised of the Zell Miller Scholarship and a new form of the old HOPE program. With the Zell Miller Scholarship, students must have a 3.7 GPA and score a 1200 on the SAT in order to qualify for total college tuition funding. Its counterpart, the new HOPE scholarship, requires that students maintain a 3.0 as before. Yet this branch of the scholarship will cover only 90% of tuition as opposed to the full funding provided in the past. These changes are problematic on many levels, especially since socioeconomic status is tied to how students perform academically. Deal’s changes to the HOPE program mean that many people who were already more likely to have substantive wealth and access to a quality education will be receiving more money and acceptance into institutions of higher learning. On the other hand, their poorer counterparts will likely lose their opportunity to attain the money necessary to fund their education, thereby perpetuating the cycles of poverty put in place by their uneducated parents. Upon considering Deal’s changes to the HOPE scholarship then, it appears that he is at least somewhat unconcerned about devising solutions for problems indigenously connected to the poverty that results from-and is perpetuated by-a lack of education.

Individuals who argue that the Democrats have a better record of educating the poor than the Republicans may be surprised to note that President Barack Obama was responsible for cutting Pell Grant funding by 33%. According to Obama’s new plan, Pell Grants will be rewarded for 12-rather than 18-semesters. The cuts were reportedly first discovered by Dallas college students who received e-mails regarding the changes. Put in perpetuity by the Consolidated Appropriations Act that President Obama signed into law on December 23, 2011, the federal measure limiting Pell Grant funding took effect on July 1, 2012. These cuts will negatively affect many groups, but its primary victims will be the lower income an at-risk students who may have to scramble for funds to make up for the loss. What makes Obama’s role in imposing these educational limitations on students who need substantive funding particularly problematic is that he did not mention the fact that he was approving the legislation during his campaign. Finally, the fact that the Republican plan for the Pell Grant would have involved deeper cuts than those put in place by the Democrats does not negate the negative impact that the latter party has exacted through the legislation.

As made evident by juxtaposing Deal’s HOPE fund cuts and Obama’s Pell Grant slashing, members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have a proclivity for problematizing the ability of the poor to attain a quality education through government assistance. Whether this is an acceptable way for politicians to govern should be left to informed and thinking citizens, but in a nation where legislators don’t make education a priority, the general populace may not possess the aforementioned attributes to the degree that most would like.

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Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who
Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Doctor Who is a British science fiction series following the exploits of The Doctor, a two-hearted alien from the planet of Gallifrey who travels space and time, frequently with human companions. Here are some vital life lessons that can be learned from their adventures:

5 – When all else fails, improvise!

Should you find yourself in a tight spot, perhaps surrounded by homicidal pepper shaker shaped creatures bent on your destruction, the ability to think on your feet is a positive trait. Always keep your wits about you and approach each situation with an open mind.

4 – Being weird is perfectly okay

Above all else, remember to be true to yourself. It’s healthy to take time to be childish and spontaneous. You may not necessarily choose to wear a bow tie/fez combination out into public, but never be afraid to take a few risks in the name of fun. Try not to allow yourself to become overly cynical and pessimistic.

3 – The bad things in life cannot ruin the good

It’s inevitable that bad things will happen in life and, in some cases, these events can be tragic. It can be difficult to think positively on these events but one should always try to find the silver lining and learn an important lesson. Remember the good times with those who have been lost and do not let the down times take away from those that are good.

2 – No one is unimportant

There are no trivial beings on this (or any other!) world. Every person has their part to play and their change to make. No one person should be wholly disregarded or considered to be below another. One should also make sure to apply to oneself. A feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming, but search deep and you will find the value in yourself.

1 – Compassion for other beings is never over-rated

At his basic level, The Doctor is an alien from another world who, at sometimes random chance, frequently finds himself in a battle to save the earth. What is his reason to do so? Simply, he feels he has to. Even those who battle against the Doctor find themselves spared harm unless no other option presents itself.

The Doctor, anatomically, has two hearts. The most important lesson that we can take from my favorite show is that we humans with just one should not let it be far too small.

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AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

Posted by Rachel Evans on
AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

The AntWorks Ant Farm Space Age Ant Habitat is an incredible, highly educational eco-based item that can be used to teach children about how ants live. Studying them in the wild isn’t always the best way to go about learning about ants; you never know when they are going to be active and most of the action is happening underground. Thanks to AntWorks you can see exactly what these amazing creatures are up to. Unlike ant farms that are made up of dirt, the Space Age Ant Habitat contains a clear, non-toxic silicone based gel. The ants tunnel and dig through it as they prepare the colony for habitation.

How is this educational? It can allow children to see exactly how ants work together for the greater good of their community. Since most ants have a lifespan of about six months, you won’t have to worry about replacing all that often. You will have to find an ant colony to harvest your ants; there are none included with the kit and unlike the Uncle Milton Ant Farm, you can not send away for them. There are sites that sell this ant farm and then send you ants but they are not connected with AntWorks. Most sites that sell ants are going to have Harvester Ants; they are social creatures that are very hard workers so you will see a lot of action in your ant farm.

You do not have to feed your ants or provide them with water; the silicone gel that they are tunneling through is what they consume. It is suggested that you remove the lid from time to time to allow fresh air inside it. We also drop about 20 sugar crystals in the ant farm as a little treat for them. The ants do all the work including removing waste, expired ants and pieces of silicone that may have broken off. It is amazing to see what they can do in a 24 hour period. If you have a digital camera you can set it up in a fixed position and take a photograph of it every day or several times a day. You can upload the photos and see how much progress they have made.

Some hints for a successful Space Age Ant Habitat:
1. Do not place it in direct sunlight as it could super heat and kill the ants.
2. Do not shake the habitat or move it around a lot, it disturbs the ants and their navigation skills.
3. Do not add new ants to the habitat until they have all died off. They will more than likely be from different colonies and that could cause a fight.

You can get the AntWorks Illuminated Combination Ant Farm in three colors; green, blue or red. Of the three the blue is the one that I like best, it is a lot easier on your eyes if you plan on studying the ants for a long period of time. You can get the ant farm for $19.99 or the Illuminated Combination Ant Farm for $29.99; that has an under deck light up module that lets you watch them at night or when you don’t want to have an overhead light on. It isn’t all that bright but it is enough to light up the entire any farm and surrounding area.

If you are interested in this ant farm you can order it directly from AntWorks at their website (www.antworksonline.com).