Colorado Science & Engineering Fair

The CSEF strongly endorses the use of non-animal research methods and encourages students to use alternatives to animal research, which must be explored and discussed in the research plan. The guiding principles for the use of animals in research include the following:

  • Replace vertebrate animals with invertebrates, lower life forms, tissue/cell cultures and/or computer simulations where possible.

  • Reduce the number of animals without compromising statistical validity.

  • Refine the experimental procedure to minimize pain or distress to the animals.

  • Respect animals and their contribution to research.

Animals must be treated kindly and cared for properly.

  • Animals must be housed in a clean, ventilated, comfortable environment appropriate for the species.

  • They must be given a continuous, clean (uncontaminated) water and food supply.

  • Cages, pens and fish tanks must be cleaned frequently.

  • Proper care must be provided at all times, including weekends, holidays and vacation periods.

  • Animals must be observed daily to assess their health and well-being.

  • A Designated Supervisor is required to oversee the daily husbandry of the animals.

IMPORTANT: Please note that not all rules and guidelines are listed on this web site, please review more about CSEF rules regarding Vertebrate Animal research to make sure you are in compliance and can compete in the CSEF competition.

The following are simple samples of Forms 5A & 5B for different types of Vertebrate Animal Projects.

  • Sample Form 5A for a project where the SRC has determined only a Designated Supervisor is required.

  • Sample Form 5A for a project where the SRC has determined that a Designated Supervisor AND a Veterinarian are required.

  • Sample Form 5A for a project where the SRC has determined that a Designated Supervisor, a Veterinarian AND a Qualified Scientist are required.

  • Sample Form 5B for a project that was done at a Regulated Research Institution.

Vertebrate Animal research includes projects involving:

  • Live, non-human vertebrate mammalian embryos or fetuses;
  • Tadpoles;
  • Bird and reptile eggs within three days (72 hours) of hatching; and
  • All other non-human vertebrates (including fish) at hatching or birth.

A project that involves behavioral observations and where:

  • there is no interaction with the animals being observed;
  • there is no manipulation of the animal's environment in any way; AND
  • all federal and state agriculture; fish, game and wildlife laws and regulations are followed

does NOT need to be reviewed by an SRC prior to experimentation.

The following types of studies on vertebrate animals are prohibited:

  • All induced toxicity studies that could cause pain, distress or death, including, but not limited to using alcohol, acid rain, insecticide, herbicide, or heavy metals or studies with the intent to study toxic effects of a substance on a vertebrate animal;

  • Behavioral experiments involving operant conditioning with adverse stimuli, mother/infant separation or induced helplessness;

  • Studies of pain; and

  • Predator/prey experiments.

The Research Plan for a project that uses Vertebrate Animals must include the following:

  • A discussion of potential alternatives to the use of vertebrate animals and detailed justification as to why vertebrate animals must be used.
  • An explanation of the potential impact or contribution this research may have.
  • Detail all procedures to be used, including methods used to minimize potential discomfort, distress, pain and injury to the animals during the course of experimentation and detailed chemical concentrations and drug dosages if applicable.
  • Detail the number of animals being used, the species, strain, sex, age, etc. including justification for the number of animals planned for the research.
  • Describe the housing and oversight of daily care.
  • Discuss disposition of the animals at the termination of the study.

Form 5B must be filled out by the Qualified Scientist or the Principal Investigator at the regulated research institution. A copy of the regulated research institution's IACUC approval letter MUST be attached to this form. The Qualified Scientist must describe the USDA pain category that the research falls under.

The affiliated fair SRC will review the project to make sure that the research complies with CSEF rules prior to allowing the student to participate in the competition.

Vertebrate Animal research projects may be conducted at a non-regulated research site (home, school, farm, ranch, in the field, etc.) only if BOTH of the following apply to the study:

  • The research involves only agricultural, behavioral, observational or supplemental nutritional studies AND

  • The research involves only non-invasive and non-intrusive methods that do not negatively affect an animals' health or well-being.

All other studies using vertebrate animals must be conducted at a regulated research institution.

The SRC must decide what type of supervision the project requires:

  • A Designated Supervisor is required for ALL Vertebrate Animal projects done at a non-regulated research site.

  • A Veterinarian is not required for all Vertebrate Animal studies, but is recommended for experiments that involve supplemental nutrition and/or activities that would not be ordinarily encountered in the animal's daily life.

  • A Qualified Scientist is not required for all Vertebrate Animal studies, but may be suggested by the SRC to review the soundness of the experimental design.

Form 5A must be filled out by the researcher for EACH DIFFERENT TYPE of animal being used and include the following information:

  • The name (scientific & common) of the animal being used in the study;

  • The number of animals being used in the study;

  • The housing and husbandry (care) to be provided; and

  • What will happen to the animals after experimentation.

Proper euthanasia at the end of experimentation for tissue removal and/or pathological analysis is permitted. Only the Qualified Scientist or institutional representative may perform the euthanasia.


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Last modified 11/4/19