For the past several years HAWS has collaborated with the Hadfield Elementary Boys and Girls Clubs to provide a Spring Break Camp. This year we had 10 boys and girls from the 4th and 5th grades spend four days learning about HAWS and the animals we take in. Additionally we try and expose them to science and some of the research that's been done with animals.
Last week the kids learned about Chaser -- the border collie who has learned the names of over 1000 of his toys, and Alex the African Grey Parrot who had learned to identify objects and label them by color, size, shape and material. They also had an opportunity to put together their own experiment using dogs.
This year's experiment involved the creation of two very large mazes and a person at the end of the finish line. The question posed was will a dog learn the maze faster with a stranger with a treat at the finish, or with the dog's owner with a treat at the finish. Two mazes were created; one for the stranger and one for the owner, with the two mazes being similar in difficulty level. Each dog was given 3 trials per maze with each trial timed.
The results at the end showed that dogs learned the maze more than twice as fast when their owner was at the finish, than when a stranger was at the finish. I guess relationship means something after all!
The kids had a really fantastic time at HAWS, enjoyed spending time with all the animals, and had fun with the experiment. Hopefully they've learned that science is fun as well.
Here's a video of my dog Mystic on his second run through each of the two trials.