Xtreme Rat Challenge: psychology department rats go for the gold
For over four decades, Nebraska Wesleyan students have had the chance to win gold medals. Walking, climbing and jumping are just a few of the events involved - but rats are at the center of this popular academic event. The Xtreme Rat Challenge will be held on Monday, November 22 from 2-4 p.m. on the second floor of the Acklie Hall of Science.
Students taking the psychology class Basic Learning Principles have spent the semester training their beloved rats to rope climb, lever press, walk the tight rope, long jump, wall climb, jump hurdles and compete in a warrior rat dash.
"This event is a remarkable demonstration of the principles of behavior at work applied to the animal setting," said Assistant Professor of Psychology and Xtreme Rat Challenge coordinator Elizabeth Freeman. "This informs the applied setting for humans and thus reinforces the principles of learning. The students have worked hard to learn these principles in a classroom setting and apply them through training their rats on different events. They are very proud of the work they and their rat have done."
Over the years, the event has been featured in Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Late Show With David Letterman, the History Channel, Discovery Channel and more. Former psychology professor Marty Klein started the event, calling it the “Rat Olympics.” In 2003 the United States Olympic Committee threatened a lawsuit against the university for use of the word “Olympics” and NWU responded with a national naming contest that resulted in Xtreme Rat Challenge.
Regardless of your affinity for rats, the Xtreme Rat Challenge offers students the ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real life situations. Now that's something to squeak about!
This year's event is not open to the public due to COVID-19.