Hypothesis we are testing:
My lab group is currently following the design process rather than the scientific method. Jessica and I are in the process of designing and building a better (and cheaper) mouse cage for the lab researchers to conduct experiments in. The current mouse cages they can purchase are very expensive and do not suit the needs of the research team. Jessica and I have talked with the research team to find the pros and cons of the current model and have discussed multiple ways of constructing a cage will meet the needs of the research without becoming a confounding variable in their experimentation.
Controls of the experiment:
Since our research team is in the process of duplicating a research study completed by a previous group at a different university, it is important that we use identical procedures to make sure the data we collect is truly comparable to the previously done experiment. Some of the controls include using the same type of mice, the same type of reward/punishment, and the time for each trial. The term punishment is a bit misleading because they don't truly punish the mice. The mice are trained to think they did something wrong if a certain light goes on or a certain sound is heard (depending on the trial). If a mouse pokes the wrong sensor to get the reward, then the sound is played or a light turns on to tell the mouse he needs to try again.
Measure our results:
The success of our cage depends on the research team being able to collect reliable data. Our data will be collected using a MatLab program that will be written by one of the researchers.
Reliability of our data:
The reliability of our data may be limited due to certain unknown specifications of the original experiment. One difficulty is trying to make sure the hole that the mouse sticks his nose into "nose poke" is both the right size and the correct height for the mouse to easily access. We tried to match the height of the existing nose poke hole with cage panels that existed on the original cage but we will be doing further testing to see if this is the best height for the mouse to actually poke into and trigger the sensor to gather data.