Science Fair

We have several young S.T.E.M. Bunnies scientists who are really excelling in various science fairs this spring.  We are pleased to be able to highlight some of their work on this page.

1) We don't test any products on bunnies or do any science experiments that could be harmful. 
2) Our lessons are full of observing and learning/reinforcing life science concepts.  And the kids are always supervised by parents, rabbit breeders or vets.
3) Exciting hands-on activities that are appropriate to their age, skill level and maturity.  They are live animals and we need to keep them safe -- and we need to keep our kids safe.
4) Worksheets are key!  We have been creating tools to go along with the life events.  Math problems  are based on real life situations with our rabbit colony or the farm where our rabbits spent the winter.  Parents call these "word problems" but they kids are super engaged.  They are learning that math is helpful in solving problem and that physics is the basis for engineering stuff that we need... Who knew that science could be so cuddly and cute too!   Our young scientists have designed cages and the layout in the barn, adjusting locations, heights, materials.  Our worksheets let kids at home work on these too.

They have learned where rabbit babies come from and about the full life cycle of a mammal.  They have read rabbit food labels and applied that to what they should be eating to be healthy too. After learning that the horrible smell is from ammonia in the urine, they worked to neutralize the smell by adding vinegar --then learned that this is a chemical reaction that can be measured not just smelled.  Then we launched into acid/base reactions.

Caleb (3rd grade) did his science fair project on rabbits, weighing and measuring baby bunnies from multiple litters to test his hypothesis.  And then there's all the bonus stuff --like watching the baby goats get their umbilical cords cut this week,  tapping maple trees for syrup together, and digging ditches to help keep the barn from flooding.  Our kids get dirty and messy and we invite other suburban families to learn from our kids as they explore this amazing world and find out how it works.

If you have an idea for a future project, contact and we'd be pleased to discuss the possibility of sharing a rabbit with you or allowing you to come to the rabbit farm to carry out your project.  To be implemented, all elementary age rabbit projects must pass our humane animal ethics test and be signed by a parent and your teacher.
For Middle School and High School projects, you must also have the plan approved by a school SRC/IRB.

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) examines projects for the following:
  1. evidence of literature search and appropriate attribution
  2. evidence of proper supervision
  3. use of accepted and appropriate research techniques
  4. completed forms, signatures and dates showing maximum of one year duration of research and appropriate pre-approval dates (where required)
  5. evidence of search for alternatives to animal use
  6. humane treatment of animals
  7. compliance with rules and laws governing human and/or animal research and research involving potentially hazardous biological agents
  8. documentation of substantial expansion for continuation projects
  9. i. compliance with the ISEF ethics statement

Helpful Link
If your school does not have a science fair, or if you are home schooled, you may contact the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair directly for assistance. If you have questions on approval of your project before you start, or if your school does NOT do science fair and therefore does not have an IRB, please send your name, email address, grade (6-8 or 9-12), school, and your complete research plan to before you start your experiment. an be found here.

A Junior Breeder named Caleb has worked hard for the past nine months working on a rabbit genetic project (outlined below)  In two fairs he has won blue ribbons for his grade level and he wants to share what he discovered here with you.  Markus' project is starting up soon and many other children are receiving a rabbit for the spring. We hope you'll continue to share what you are learning with others!!

by Caleb S.

Do the buck rabbit's size genetically determine the size of its babies?

The purpose of this project is to determine if a larger buck (male rabbit) will produce genetically bigger babies, first at birth and then over time, as compared with a smaller buck mated with the same doe (female rabbit).

Hypothesis (1) A bigger buck produces bigger kits (measured at birth and over time)
Hypothesis (2) A bigger buck produces smaller kits (measured at birth and over time)
Hypothesis (3) It makes no difference in the size of the kits (measured at birth and over time)

Procedures – Experiment
American Blue, purebred pedigreed mature adult rabbits at least six months old
(2 bucks of different size, 1 doe)
(3) Hutch/cages for rabbits to live in and play areas
1 ½ cups pellets per day per adult rabbit (see pellet formula)
½ cup pellets per day per kit
Unlimited tap water access
(3)  1 liter water bottle, one per cage
(3) feeding containers that hole 1 ½ cups of pellets
Hay, grass, veggie treats
1 Nest box (clean between births)
Nesting materials: Newspaper and hay and natural grass for nesting
(Doe provides fur ripped from her body)
Scale to weigh rabbits
Soft sided measuring tape (centimeters)

Manipulated Variable: Intentional change for investigation
 Buck's size
Responding Variable: Another self-changing variable because of a manipulated variable
Buck's color
Control/Variables Held Constant:
Same doe (Creampuff); Same breeding season; Same hutch; same feed; same water source;
Same amount of outside time; Same weather pattern of summer; Same caregivers

Step by Step Directions
Breed the doe and buck rabbit
Mark calendar 25 days later to add nest box to cage
Add nest box on 25th day
Provide nesting materials in nest box
Record when doe begins nesting
Check nest box daily for ripped fur (delivery likely in < 24 hours)
Record date that kits are delivered
Weigh each kit on a scale on day of birth, wk 1, wk 3, wk 9, wk 12, wk 18
Measure the length and diameter of each kit on day of birth, wk 1, wk 3, wk 9, wk 12, wk 18
Chart the weight, length and diameter of each kit
Compare the data at birth and various ages

Creampuff Aurora Peacebunny
(Red Eye White) Albino
Breed: American Blue
Pedigreed. Purebred
Gender: Doe
Age: 1 year
Weight: 11 pounds

Paxton Peacebunny
True Blue with recessive albino gene
Breed: American Blue
Pedigreed. Purebred
Gender: Buck
Age: 1 year
Weight: 9 pounds

(Red Eye White) Albino
Breed: American Blue
Pedigreed. Purebred
Gender: Buck
Age: 1 year
Weight 11 pounds

Results: (Spreadsheet and Charts to be posted soon)
Table 1  (Nest box #1)
Table 2  (Nest box #2)
Chart   Comparison of weight, diameter and length at various ages


 1)  Support/Nonsupport of Hypothesis  Were the results what was expected? 
No.  Babies were statistically the same at birth (length, diameter & weight)
Yes. Babies from the big buck grew much larger over time (length, diameter & weight)

2) Were there any unexpected events that may have affected the results of the investigation?
   Yes – I was going to compare another doe but her kits died.

3) Changes to design of experiment
Measure the food more exactly just to make sure that food amount was the same
Record data at wk 1, 4, 8, 12, which corresponds to months and life event
(for example: 8 weeks at weaning, 12 weeks at harvest)
Was there sufficient data?  No 
Were there enough trials? No.  
Ideally repeat the whole same process (breed both bucks with the same Doe) to see if get the same result.  Next: repeat the whole process again with the same two bucks and a different doeThen use the same doe with another set of bucks.


"The further I was along in this project, the more I wanted to keep the project going and to expand it to test the results.  It really made me think about how scientific studies are conducted and how they "sell" things.  Do they do enough trials?  Does someone check to make sure it's not just a fluke result?  Did they outright lie to sell something because they aren't getting caught?  Did they use fair graphs or make the numbers prove their point?  This project made me think about how I think.   Standing at a science fair booth telling about my experiment over and over was good because their questions made me think about how I explain things that I am familiar with and they probably don't know about.  I almost forgot that I didn't know ANYTHING about rabbits two years ago except they were cute and fuzzy.  I'm so fired up to learn more!  "

                                                                                          --Caleb (9 years)

Bibliography:  National 4H Animal Series, p 10-17 (2004).
ARBA American Rabbit Breeders Association website