Ethics – Human Case Study (<2008) - How Does Alcohol Affect Response Time?

Mon, 2012-02-27 08:13 -- pwhippey

Description of the Project

How does alcohol affect response time?

William grew up in a family that grew grapes for wine-making. He proposed to give a set of volunteers from his immediate family 1 ounce of alcohol every half hour for two hours, measuring their response time ten minutes after each glass. He intended to use 1 ounce drinks with concentrations of 5%. 10% 15% and 20% alcohol.

Advice or Ruling

This project is ineligible for any Science Fair for several reasons:

  • It involves giving humans a substance that is known to be deleterious to their well being, and so is unacceptable from an ethical perspective.
  • The affect of alcohol on humans has been studied extensively, so this experiment is not going to generate any new data. Typing "Effect of Alcohol on Humans" into Google received over 9 million hits on 6 February 2009.
  • It involves a minor encouraging others to drink alcohol. It is not appropriate for any Science Fair Organization to condone this practice.

No project involving consumption of alcohol by either humans or animals is eligible for any School, Regional or National Science Fair.

A member of the regional science fair committee will work with William to find a project that is within the rules.

Your Project

If your proposed science fair project involves the participation of humans or the use of animals,
  1. Visit the Ethics web page so as to become familiar with the policies.
  2. Fill in the Request for Advice or a Ruling.
  3. Submit it to the Ethics Committee of your Regional Science Fair.


These case studies summarize interesting examples of science fair projects involving humans or animals submitted to the Youth Science Canada National Ethics Committee for review. A brief description of the proposed project is given, along with the ruling given by the Ethics Committee. Some details may have been changed in the descriptions so that the original source cannot be identified. The ethical challenges described have not been changed.