Youth Science Canada (YSC) endorses the 10 Principles that define animal use in a science fair setting outlined in the Use of Animals in Precollege Education by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. Participants and adult supervisors should be aware of these guidelines. For more details check out YSC guidelines:  Use of Vertebrate Animals, Cephalopods, Decapods and Crustaceans in Research and the Use of Invertebrate Animals in Research.


Choose the heading below that most closely matches the level of animal use you are planning in your project. Do not hesitate to Contact Us (Registrar/Ethics) for assistance before you begin your project.

Vertebrates and Cephalopods

  1. have a backbone and spinal column or complex nervous system
  1. include mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, octopus squid and cuttlefish
  2. embryos of the above. (Note: if embryos are hatched, the offspring must be reared normally.  I not, all embryos must be destroyed by approved methods before 85% of normal incubation.

Any use of the above requires

  1. Use of Animals Research Plan to be submitted BEFORE beginning the project and
  2. a Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research Approval Form completed and uploaded to Ethics Forms

You can do only the following types of experiments.

  1. Observational studies of animals in zoological parks, farms or of pets is permitted.
  2. Observational studies of wild animals is permitted, but not species listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Students should obtain advice and permission from conservation authorities to ensure that they are not interfering with the animal’s life, and to ensure that their project is permissible.
  3. Behavioural studies with positive reinforcement only are allowed. Animals may not be stressed by withdrawing food or water.
  4. Any other type of experiment requires a Scientific Supervisor and a Hospital, University or Research facility where animal experimentation has been reviewed by a Scientific Review Committee. For further information, Contact Us (Registration/Ethics).


  1. lower orders of life with elementary nervous system
  2. include arthropods (insects, crustaceans), mollusks (snails, slugs, mussels, clams) annelids (worms, leeches) and coelenterates (jellyfish, sea anemone)
  3. Cephalopods (squid, octopus, cuttlefish) are excluded from this group and treated according the rules for Vertebrates as they have a large central nervous system.

Lower orders of life – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, insects, plants and invertebrate animals with elementary nervous systems – can be used in experimentation to reveal valuable basic biological information. No additional ethics forms are required. However, if you are using microbes, please check our Safety Page.

Cells and animal parts, including organs, tissues, plasma or serum may be used in science fair projects. They can be obtained only in one of three ways:

  1. from biological supply houses;
  2. from the research facilities at laboratory licensed to do animal studies; or
  3. salvaged from the food industry.

Evidence of the source of the materials must be brought to the fair and be available at the project display.