Toronto Science Fair

Ethical Animal and Human Experimentation

While student investigations of biological processes are to be encouraged, they are subject to the same laws, ethics, and regulations as any other research. In the Criminal Code of Canada and the Animals for Research Act of Ontario, all vertebrates are afforded protection. Also, schools and science fairs are explicitly included in the definition of 'research facility' in Ontario. The regulations described here, based on CWSF rules, are written in view of these laws.

Biological experimentation is subject to legal restrictions including, among others:

Depending on the nature of the study, various forms will need to be completed and displayed at your project. Failure to comply with safety and ethical requirements may result in disqualification of the project.

If you have any questions about your project, and want to be sure it is eligible for presentation, you can request a ruling.

Complete details and forms are found on the ethics page of the Youth Science Canada website. Youth Science: Ethics

Important details are summarized here.

See the guidelines below for further information about experimentation with invertebrates, vertebrates and humans.

Questions about safety & ethics?

Students may use invertebrate animals as defined here:

  • An animal lacking a backbone, such as an arthropod, mollusc, annelid, coelenterate, etc.
  • Note however, that Cephalopods are invertebrates with large, vertebrate-like central nervous system and are treated according to the rules for Vertebrate Animals.

Questions about safety & ethics?

Students may use vertebrate animals as defined here:

  • An animal of a large group distinguished by the possession of a backbone or spinal column, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes.
  • Projects involving Vertebrate Animals require a Scientific Supervisor and Adult Supervisor. (May be a parent or teacher.)
  • Projects with vertebrate animals & cephalopods require Form 4.1C
  • This form must be displayed at your project.

Questions about safety & ethics?

All human experimentation (Low Risk AND Significant Risk) requires participants to give their informed consent. This involves preparing the following:

  1. Informed consent letter of information
  2. Informed consent Permission Form for EACH participant
These forms must be displayed at your project.

Human experimentation: LOW RISK

Projects involving Humans involving Low Risk require a Scientific Supervisor and Adult Supervisor. (May be a parent or teacher.)

Form 4.1 A Participation of Humans Low Risk Approval required.

This form must be displayed at your project.

A low risk project is defined as follows:

  1. Surveys of Attitudes and Beliefs, Skill Tests, or Observations of Behaviour
  2. Projects studying normal consumption of food or drink are considered Low Risk when they are designed only to assess the characteristics and effects of a common food.
  3. No Projects involving caffeinated foods or drinks permitted in subjects under 10 years of age. Studies using caffeinated beverages must follow these daily limits of caffeine intake: 85g caffeine per day for subjects aged 10 to 12; 200 mg caffeine per day for subjects aged 13 and older.
  4. Projects that involve absorption through the skin must involve a risk of harm no greater than that encountered in everyday life.
  5. Exercise Testing beyond normal every day activities is considered Significant Risk.

See Youth Science: Participation of Humans in Research for full details

Human experimentation: SIGNIFICANT RISK

A project involving humans that is not considered LOW RISK, is a Human Significant Risk project. See full definition and examples at Youth Science Canada.

Projects involving Humans involving Significant Risk require a Scientific Supervisor and Adult Supervisor.

Form 4.1 B Participation of Humans Significant Risk Approval is required.

This form must be displayed at your project.

Summary of forms required for Animal and Human Experimentation

These forms must be completed fully and displayed at your project.

Invertebrate Animals (excluding cephalopods): Form 4.1C

Non-Human Vertebrate Animals: Form 4.1C

ALL Human Experimentation

  1. Informed consent letter of information
  2. Informed consent Permission Form for EACH participant
  3. Form 4.1A OR 4.1B as listed below:

Human Experimentation Low Risk

  1. Informed consent letter of information
  2. Informed consent Permission Form for EACH participant
  3. Form 4.1 A Participation of Humans Low Risk Approval

Human Experimentation Significant Risk

  1. Informed consent letter of information
  2. Informed consent Permission Form for EACH participant
  3. Form 4.1 B Participation of Humans Significant Risk Approval