December 9, 2011
Writer: Writer: Scott Haycock

The Department of Psychology will host its annual Rat Olympics Dec. 14, at 9 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., in the Thomas E. Ricks Building. After being trained for only five weeks, the event will highlight tricks the rats can perform.

Over 40 psychology students have created and trained their rats to jump, navigate through various obstacle courses and perform other novel tricks. To prepare for this, students first trained chickens. "Chickens are easier to motivate, but don't have high cognitive abilities like rats. The rats are a good test for our students," said Kimberly Andersen, faculty member in the department of Psychology.

The Rat Olympics has been a tradition in the Department of Psychology for the past 16 years and has been led by Andersen. "This is a great opportunity for our students to apply the theories and principles they learned in class. Rats aren't the easiest to teach, but the behavior and learning skills that students get to use to teach the rats is great hands-on experience," said Andersen.