Canine Championship: The Gripping Conclusion

At long last, the results of our Canine Championship are in. But before we dive right in to crowning one of our canines “Professor Pooch,” we feel that we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on a few scientific concepts first.

If you had a chance to watch the video showing the gamut of tests that the dogs would be put through, you’ll notice that the conditions of the activities were the same for each dog. Each dog was subject to the same blanket, the same cup, the same board, and the same treats. In other words, the conditions were standardized for each experiment and participant.

Because our canines were all being tested in different parts of the country and under different conditions, we had to come up with our own way to make sure that the experiments had some level of standardization. To this end, we stipulated the following conditions for these activities:

Blanket over Head: All dogs were covered head-to-toe with a regular sized bath towel. The towels must have completely covered their heads and as much of their bodies as possible.

Cup over Treat:  All treats were completely covered with a regular sized plastic cup.

Blanket over Treat: The same towel was used as in the first activity and the treat was placed under the middle of the towel.

Board over Treat: The boards used were no more than 2 inches off the ground.

So, without further ado, here are the results we have for the Canine Championship:

Blanket over Head:

Lennu: 4.66 seconds

Millie: 4.8 seconds

Roxy: 9.6 seconds

Sammy: .76 seconds




Cup over Treat:

Lennu: 11.66 seconds

Millie: 2.4 seconds

Roxy: 7.6 seconds

Sammy: 7.57 seconds




Blanket over Treat:

Lennu: 30.67 seconds

Millie: 29.5 seconds

Roxy: 12.9 seconds

Sammy: 7.75 seconds

We know this doesn't relate to this activity, but ain't he cute?

We know this doesn’t relate to this activity, but ain’t he cute?


Board over Treat:

Lennu: 1 minute, 38 seconds

Millie: 3 seconds

Roxy: 4.2 seconds

Sammy:  49 seconds

Total Time:

1st – Roxy 34.3 seconds

2nd – Millie: 39.7 seconds

3rd – Sammy: 65.1 seconds

4th – Lennu: 155 seconds

Way to go Roxy! While she may not have won any individual event, Roxy’s performance earned her the crown of Professor Pooch!Roxy Cap & Gown

Ok, so before we let Danielle make too many excuses for “Last Place Lennu,” we must remark that these activities, while fun and entertaining, only seem to touch on a certain type of canine intelligence. If you look back to the three types of intelligence listed in our introductory Canine Championship post, these activities really seem to target the canine’s adaptive intelligence. Due to the fact that some breeds, particularly working breeds, have heightened amounts of working/obedience intelligence, this default mindset may have hindered our Aussie’s performance in this competition. Danielle did note that Lennu kept looking to her to make sure his actions were ok, and when he tried the activities a second time, he did them at lightning speed. On the other end of the spectrum, Roxy is great at following Lindsey’s commands but when she releases her by saying “Okay,” Roxy is very independent and doesn’t let anything stand in the way of what she wants (in this case, a treat!)

Ok, so Roxy may have been crowned Professor Pooch for the moment, but we want to hear from you! Write to us with the results of your dog so we can add them to the results board. Be sure to provide us with information about your dog’s breed, age, gender, a little known fact about them, and their trick repertoire, along with their results! And make sure you use the standardizations that we stipulated for our mutts.

Ready… Go!

Canine Championship

We on the STEM team have a confession to make… we are total dog nuts. Just give us an excuse and we’re happy to regale you with tales of our canine’s crazy antics and fantastic feats. So when someone mentioned dedicating a blog post or two to our dogs, who were we to argue? However, we are also science-oriented people, and it wouldn’t do for us to just gratuitously dote on our pets. So we thought we would take a second to dig into the science behind our dogs’ intelligence and apply what we learn through a doggie showdown to crown one of our pooches smartest of them all!

It may seem easy to speculate about the intelligence level of our dogs by assessing how good they are at tricks and how well they listen to their owners. In reality, these types of assessments only get at part of the picture. According to Stanley Coren, author of the book The Intelligence of Dogs, working/obedience intelligence is only one of three types of dog intelligence. The other two types of intelligence are adaptive intelligence, which marks a dog’s problem-solving abilities, and instinctive intelligence, which marks how sharp their instincts are.  So just because your dog may not do what you say, that does not make him/her a dumb dog!

So how do we get a better idea of the overall intelligence levels of our dogs? Well, it turns out we weren’t the only ones to ask this question. PBS Kids came up with a wonderful collection of tests to test dogs’ problem-solving skills. So we thought we would follow suit and put our dogs up to the test!

Here’s the lineup:


DollyAge: 7 months
Gender: Female
Breed: Shih-tzu
Favorite Toy: Rawhide bones
Little Known Fact: The shih-tzu is an ancient breed from China and played a part in many royal families.
Trick Repertoire: When she has her stuffed animal toys she will shake them so hard that they flip up in the air and she will jump and catch it.
Owner: Candice

LENNU (pronounced Len-oo)

LennuAge: 5 years
Gender: Male
Breed: Australian Shepherd
Favorite Toy: FRISBEE!!!
Little Known Fact: Lennu disappeared last year and found his way back home after 4 days.
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Rollover, High-five, Figure 8 (through the owners’ legs), Back up, Speak, Leave it, Drop it
Owner: Danielle


MillieAge: 2.5 years (estimated)
Gender: Female
Breed: American Pit Bull Terrier
Favorite Toy: Anything Roxy is playing with
Little Known Fact: She was rescued off the streets and was in pretty bad shape, but after being nursed back to health she’s turned into the perfect family dog who lives for giving anyone and everyone lots of kisses!
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Dance, Leave It, Wait, Back
Owner: Lindsey


Roxy_2 (3)Age: 2.5 years
Gender: Female
Breed: American Staffordshire Terrier Mix
Favorite Toy: Squeaky Ball
Little Known Fact: It takes Roxy less than 30 minutes to annihilate “indestructible” toys but she loves playing with inflated balloons so much that she has learned how to be gentle with them so she can play with them for hours.
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Sit Pretty, Dance, Sing, Leave It, Wait, Back
Owner: Lindsey


SammyAge: 3 years (estimated)
Gender: Male
Breed: Black Lab/Border Collie Mix
Favorite Toy: Lennu
Little Known Fact: Sammy is in an on-again-off-again relationship with his owner’s sister’s Yellow Lab/Border Collie Mix named Abby
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, High-five, Rollover, Drop it
Owner: Danielle


FitzAge: 3 years
Gender: Male
Breed: Shih-tzu
Favorite Toy: ALL TOYS, including his bed (he will herd all of the toys around the house into his bed then carry the bed by mouth to another room)
Little Known Fact: The Shih-tzu breed wasn’t brought to the United States until WWII.
Trick Repertoire: Fitz loves to dance on his hind legs & he can talk and say “I wuv you Candice.”
Owner: Candice

So what do you think? Who will come out on top?

Weigh in with your prediction of the smartest dog, and tell us why you made your choice!

Activities-In-Action: Tornado in a Bottle

Our first Activity in Action comes from our very own student research assistants. We gave them a break from the daily grind to try one of the activities from our STEM-Works website, and since tornadoes have been such a hot topic as of late they decided to go with the Twister in a Bottle activity. Read on to learn about their experience!

 Tornado in a Bottle

Like it or not, tornadoes are a part of our world. The recent tragedy in Oklahoma motivated us to find out why these powerful weather phenomena occur. In this experiment we decided to make our own little tornado to learn more about the science and mechanics behind them.

This easy experiment is something you can do using materials you can find in your own house! We used two bottles, duct tape, water, and food coloring to create our own tornado.Materials0

Firstly, we poured water into one of the water bottles, then we added three drops of food coloring.Preparation 1

Secondly, we taped the two water bottles together at their mouths, leaving the water in the bottom bottle.Preparation 2

Lastly, we inverted the bottle with the water on the top and gave it a twist!Experiment 4

We found that the colored water swirled from the bottle on the top bottle to the bottle on the bottom, just like the wind pattern of a tornado! But don’t take our word for it… Try this experiment yourself. What results do you come up with? Can you change the size or shape of this experiment?

Want to learn more about the inner workings of a tornado? Check out this video taken by a camera placed directly in the path of a tornado.