What science fair projects can I do with a hamster or a rat?
This question is often asked of students that are interested in zoology science fair projects. While there are multiple types of science fair projects that can use hamsters or rats, it is important to remember that these animals are living things that have feelings and rights to humane treatment. It is also important to remember that there are special rules that apply to using live animals in science fair projects. Make sure to read and understand these rules before starting an animal project.
Maze science fair projects are very popular among elementary aged students. These science fair projects are designed to either test the problem solving or memory skills of a hamster or rat. You can utilize a number of learning theories in your maze experiments. For example, you can use positive reinforcement to encourage your rat or hamster to take a specific route or to complete the maze.
Behavior Science Fair Projects
Behavior projects that involve hamsters or rats will need to focus on a specific type of behavior of the animal. Here you will want to see if your animal can be trained to behave in a specific manner through the use of classical or operant conditioning. For example, you can see if you can train your hamster to ring a bell to be fed, or you can see if you can reduce the nocturnal activity of a rat by exposing it to artificial light at night.
Comparative Study Projects
Another project that you can develop is a comparative study project. Here you will be comparing one animal species to another, i.e. hamsters vs. rats. The goal of these projects will be to determine if one species is better at something than the others, such as a faster learner or a better problem solver. When setting up these types of science fair projects you will need to clearly define what you are trying to observe and you will need to make sure that both species are presented with exactly the same experiment and experiment setting. This will ensure that your results will be accurate.
Animal/Human Science Fair Projects
Another angle that your hamster or rat science fair project can take is to focus on how humans and animals interact with each other. Here you have several options. For example, you can see if interacting with a pet rat or hamster can impact the heart rate or blood pressure of a human, or you can see how a person who is afraid of rats physically responds to one that has been placed on their lap or hand.