Scent and fear
The materials required for this science fair project:
- 10 white mice, purchased from a pet store
- 1 packet of sunflower seed
- Cardboards or old carton boxes (quantity as may be required to make the maze)
- 1 pair of scissors
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 1 bottle of glue
- 1 stopwatch
- 1 meter-length ruler
- 1 cloth, soaked in cat urine (place the cloth in a cat litter box)
1. For this science fair project, the independent variable was the whether the maze had the scent of a cat or not. The dependent variable was the time taken for the mouse to complete the maze. This is determined by measuring the amount of time taken using a stopwatch. The constants (control variables) were the size and type of the maze, how hungry the mice were, the type of food used, and the age/breed/parentage of the mice.
2. A maze approximately 500mm x 800mm in size was made using cardboard, glue and masking tape. The walls of the maze were at least 200mm high, to prevent the rodents from jumping out. See figure 1.
3. Once the maze was completed, we left it outdoors for 2 days in order for the smell of the glue dissipate. This was to avoid the mice from being distracted by the smell of glue.
4. A sunflower seed was placed at the end of the maze. The mice were dropped at the start of the maze one at a time. The time taken for each mouse to find the food was recorded.
5. Procedure 4 was repeated once a day for 9 days and it was observed that the mice were fairly consistent in terms of how quickly they were able to solve the maze. The speed of the mice on the 9th day was recorded.
6. On the 10th day, the piece of cloth soiled with cat urine was placed near the end zone of the maze. The 10 mice were placed in maze one at a time, and the amount of time taken by each mouse to complete the maze was measured and recorded.
Handle the mice with care