At Penn Manor High School, students in regular psychology and Advanced Placement Psychology conduct lab experiments using live rats. Yep, you read that correctly: LIVING RODENTS! After the 10-15 day project, students create Youtube videos demonstrating concepts learned. Some short, but effective videos from this year are Agnes (2014), Lacey (2014) and Oz (2014).
During the project, students apply content standards from the APA/TOPSS standards in high school psychology, including:
• Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals
• Principles of classical conditioning
• Principles of operant conditioning
Students ensure their three-week-old rat’s health by weighing it on an electronic baby scale. If rats lose more than 5-10% of their total weight, it can be an indicator of illness.
In AP Psychology, students are encouraged to use a “clicker” to classically condition their rat. Ultimately, the “clicker” sound excites the rats because they associate it with food. Students apply Ivan Pavlov’s trace conditioning by clicking first (CS), pausing, and then presenting the rat with food (UCS). For an example, see these student-made videos on Youtube: the rat Anastasia’s video (2011) or Ellie the rat (2010).
Nessy to push a marble down two ramps, then eight ramps, then seventeen ramps (see images or YouTube video @ 40 seconds).
To see more student and rat videos, go to http://vitaappsych.wikispaces.com/RATS There is a project description on this link for those interested in training their own rats.
Thanks for sharing this, Maria!
--posted by Steve