Thursday, March 10, 2011

a-MAZE-ing rats!

Today Miles has a spelling test, a Spanish test, AND an oral presentation to do... and he was STILL excited to go to school. Such a good boy.

Lilli has a spelling test today, too. She also completed a fabulous science project on.... rats! You would have guessed it, right? She made a cardboard maze:

Initially, the rat was not too interested - in fact, she jumped out the top of the maze, but mostly she just sat at dead ends:

BUT THEN... we saw a show on TV called "Rat Genius" or something like that - just by coincidence - and the MIT rat researcher explained how rats need "landmarks" to help them create a map in their heads and memorize a route - just like we would use landmarks (turn right at the yellow house, etc.).

So, Lilli put some toys along the maze route as landmarks and... the rat did it! She went through, slowly, smelling & climbing on & even biting at some of the toys, until she finally, for the first time, found the treat. THEN, the truly amazing thing happened.... we put the rat back at the beginning of the maze and she ran through, briefly looking at or smelling each landmark that she had apparently memorized and she reached the end treat in record time!! The landmarks worked!

Oh yes, I remember now... the carrot is just past the bunny & around the corner by the penguin:

Now tell me you didn't learn something new about rat brains today.

(Don't laugh at her shirt - it's her mother's fault.)

The moral of the story is that, if I hadn't let my kids watch random TV instead of studying for their spelling & Spanish tests, the science experiment would have been a bust.