Training For Gold and Grades: 38th Annual Xtreme Rat Challenge is Dec. 6
White rodents with long pink tails have been spotted in the halls of the Smith-Curtis Administration Building.
But Nebraska Wesleyan University does not have a rodent problem.
The sightings are accompanied by sounds of clickers, shakers, and bells...the sounds of learning.
The University's 38th annual Xtreme Rat Challenge will be held Thursday, December 6 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Smith-Curtis Administration Building, located two blocks east of 50th Street and St. Paul Ave.
Students enrolled in the psychology course “Basic Learning Principles” have spent the fall semester training rats for one of the university’s most popular academic events. Students train their rats to run, jump and climb a variety of athletic obstacles. This year’s competition will include hurdles, rope climb, tightrope walk, long jump, wall climb, and lever press. Winning rats are rewarded with gold medals and treats while students are rewarded with a good grade since the event is part of their final exam.
The purpose of the class is to learn about the power of positive reinforcement. Students apply their classroom lessons to the rat lab where they use sounds and treats to train their rodents.
Video about the Xtreme Rat Challenge:
The Xtreme Rat Challenge was originally called the “Rat Olympics” until 2003 when the United States Olympic Committee threatened a lawsuit against Nebraska Wesleyan for using the word “Olympics.” The lawsuit drew the attention of Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and the Late Show With David Letterman. In recent years, the event has been featured on the Discovery Channel, Modern Marvels and National Public Radio.
The Xtreme Rat Challenge is free and open to the public.