Comparing the learning abilities of male and female mice
The materials required for the experiment are as follows:
- 5 male mice
- 5 female mice
- a stack of cardboard or old carton boxes (make sure that there are enough boards or boxes to make 2 mazes)
- a pair of scissors
- a roll of masking tape
- a bottle of glue
- a stopwatch
- a 1meter ruler
1. For this science project, the independent variable is the mice’s gender. The dependent variable is the amount of time the mice take to complete a maze, and whether they prefer to use their left or right paws. Use a stopwatch to time the mice. Observe also, which paws the mice tend to use. The constants (control variables) are the size and type of the maze, the condition the mice are in (they should be kept hungry for the experiment), and the type of food used.
2. Make a classic maze and a T-maze approximately the size 500 millimeters x 800 millimeters using a pile of cardboard, a bottle of glue and a roll of masking tape. The maze must be at least 200mm tall so that the rodents cannot jump out. See figure 1 for an example of the 2 mazes.
3. Leave the completed mazes to dry for 2 days. This will allow the smell of the glue to dissipate. Otherwise, the mice will be able to smell the glue, and this will distract them.
4. First, test the mice using the classic maze. Place a sunflower seed at the finish line and release the mice at the start line. Time how long the mice take to find the food. Repeat the test 5 times on each mouse. There should be a 30 minute interval between each test. Record the fastest timing for each mouse in the table below.
5. The next day, the paw-preference test is performed using the T-maze. One sunflower seed is placed in each finish zone of the T-maze and the mice are placed in the start zone (one at a time). Observe whether the mice end up on the left or the right side of the T-maze. The test is done 5 times and the most preferred side for each mice are recorded in the table below.
You should wear a pair of gloves when handling the rodents. This is to prevent getting bitten by the mice.