High School and Middle School Students

Science Fairs

While science fairs are terrific ways for students to display their knowledge of science, they do not need to include live animals. Often, when selecting a topic to study for science fairs, students may be encouraged by teachers to use animals in their projects. These projects can include experiments that involve physical pain or stress, psychological stress, surgical procedures, force-feeding, drug addiction, and/or radiation. Not only do these experiments often cause great harm and suffering to animals, but they are often wasteful of both resources and animal life, and produce little or no new information because they are duplicative of past studies. Since science fair projects that involve animals are performed by students with no training in the humane care, use, and handling of animals, they can be especially harmful for the animals involved. While some science fairs such as the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) have issued policies against student use of animals, other science fairs encourage animal use. When selecting a science project, consider topics that do not involve harming an animal in any way. If you are going to study animals, observe them in their natural habitat and do not cage or confine them for the science fair project.