Question: what is the weirdest experiment you have ever done?

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  1. Hi ssahw12,

    It’s not that weird, but it was fun. We set up a whole lot of water collectors in streams around north queensland to measure how much water was flowing down them. As part of that, we wanted to collect some of the water, so we built a big tower in the streams with bottles attached to it that filled up as the stream got higher. You can see a photo of one of them in my profile.

    We wanted to see how much sediment and pollution was flowing out of the streams to the Great Barrier Reef. Because we could measure accurately how much sediment was flowing down the streams, a lot of farmers got worried about how much topsil they were losing and have now put erosion measures in place to stop the soil being washed off. That helps the farmers by keeping the soil on their paddocks, and it helps the Reef by keepiing the dirty water off it.


  2. I’ve done a lot of pretty weird experiments, but probably the weirdest was when I was trying to measure feeing behaviour in lambs.

    Basically, the lambs were drinking milk from their mum, and we wanted to work out how much milk each lamb was able to drink within a certain period of time. To do this, we had to make sure the lambs hadn’t had any milk for at least an hour before we did the experiment (so we knew they would be hungry). This isn’t the easiest thing to do, ‘cos if you try and take a lamb away from its mum (even if they can still see each other), then they both start bleating and get very stressed, and so when you put them back together you’re measuring a stress response rather than feeding behaviour. So, how did we get around this? Well, we sewed some custom-made sheep underpants (in a beautiful floral material!) so we could cover up the mum’s teats so the lamb couldn’t get to them, but they could still stay together. As you might imagine, sheep aren’t really used to weaning underwear, and the mum’s weren’t overly thrilled about us getting in the pens and trying to put them on! This led to some pretty hilarious scenes! Oh, and we also had to put nappies on the lambs when we were measuring their feeding behaviour (‘cos we worked out how much milk they’d had by weighing them before and after their feed, so obviously if they went to the toilet during that time, that would make a big difference to the results!).

    The other weird experiment that I did more recently involved milking rats – in a study I was doing looking how feeding rats a ‘junk food’ diet when they were pregnant affected the composition of their milk. That was definitely pretty weird 🙂