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The learning abilities of hamsters who have been showered with affectionFeatured science projectScience project video

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    6 hamsters

-    2 cages for the hamsters

-    1 packet of sunflower seeds

-    Cardboards or old carton boxes (quantity as may required to make the maze)

-    1 pair of scissors

-    1 roll of masking tape

-    1 bottle of glue

-    1 stopwatch

-    1 meter-long ruler

Procedure

1.    For this experiment, the independent variable is whether or not the hamsters are given any affection. The dependent variable is the time taken for the hamster to complete the maze. This is determined by measuring the time using a stopwatch. The constants (control variables) are the size and type of the maze, where the hamsters come from, how hungry the hamsters are, and the type of food used. Ensure that the hamsters all come from the same litter.

2.    The 6 hamsters are divided into 2 groups marked group A and group B. They are kept in cages marked A and B. The hamsters kept in cage A and cage B are given the same amount of food, water and living conditions. However, the hamsters in cage A are to be given a lot of human affection. Time is spent patting and playing with the hamsters everyday for at least 2 hours, until it is clear that the hamsters have become friendly towards you.  The hamsters in cage B  are  not shown any human affection at all and are left  to themselves.

3.    A maze approximately 500mm x 800mm in size is made using cardboards, glue and masking tape. The height of the maze must be at least 200mm so that the rodents do not jump out of the maze. See figure 1 for an example of the maze.

4.    Once the maze is completed, it is left outside for 2 days for the smell of the glue to dissipate. This is because  hamsters depend on smell to find food and the smell of the glue can be a distraction/hindrance.

5.     Some  sunflower seeds  are  placed in the finish zone of the maze. The hamsters are placed in the start zone of the maze one at a time one. The time taken for each hamster to find the food is clocked and recorded in the table given below.
 
6.    Procedure 5 is repeated once a day for 7 days and all the timings are recorded in the table.

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
40
Time required:
5 days to prepare, 7 days for observation
Material availability:
Hamsters may be purchased at a pet store
Safety concerns:

Be careful when handling hamsters. Although they can be friendly, they do also bite when nervous or upset. Wear gloves to prevent injury.