By Samantha Wang, IV Form
International Brain Bee Neuroscience Competition
What is Brain Bee?
Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for teenagers from around the world. The initiative of this competition, according to its founder Dr. Norbert Myslinski, is to find better solutions for brain disorders. Every year, Brain Bee is first held at the state level. Winners of each state then compete in the country’s Regional Brain Bee, and one representative from each Regional Brain Bee will be sent to the International Brain Bee World Championship. This competition assigns a variety of tasks to its participants. The first part of the Brain Bee is to answer multiple-choice questions, which have around thirty questions about either the brain’s structure and function or pathology and treatment of brain disorders. Participants are then given brain models, where they are asked to distinguish parts of a brain and state the functions they perform. The last part involves the most interesting task I have ever experienced in any competition: four “patients” with different brain disorders, with acting from the volunteers of the organization, tell the specific life experience with their diseases. The participants are asked to diagnose their neurological or psychiatric conditions.
When we had our Brain Bee competition at UMass in February, and one “patient” acted as if she was extensively suffering her symptoms by displaying vivid facial expressions and body language; she alleviated the tense atmosphere and brought a lot of fun and energy to the room. Many of us found the process of Brain Bee competition truly enjoyable and eye-opening because of the activities and how the competition was delivered.
Why am I interested in it?
The reason why I was interested in joining Brain Bee this year was because of my passion for biology and the curiosity of exploring the different academic life outside of St. Mark’s. As I am taking Advanced Biology this year, I found myself really interested in every topic we went through, such as the science behind cancer. In our learning process, I always push myself to explore more outside resources; I am also grateful for Ms. Berndt and my team constantly giving me feedback and answering my questions. Hence, when I heard the opportunity of studying neuroscience when Brain Bee competition was brought up, I immediately decided to participate, as it was an opportunity to learn about a subject I was interested in. Furthermore, as I often wonder how other high school students are doing academically, this competition provides me a good chance to meet challenging peers who have the same passion as mine. Although we met other teams without having much contact, from the way they behaved in the competition and they discussed questions, I have learned that it was not enough for us to feel proud of ourselves when we achieved something at St. Mark’s. We need to constantly look out of our small bubble and improve ourselves.
How did I prepare for it?
Since this is the first year that our school participated in Massachusetts Brain Bee, we did not have a formal team like some of the other schools do to prepare for the competition. To study for this competition, I read through the two required neuroscience materials: “Brain Facts” and “Science of the Brain.” Then, I created a huge quizlet for some new or confusing terms in these books and went over it frequently. Besides asking questions to Ms. Berndt and Ms. Lohwater, I also watched videos on YouTube of unfamiliar and difficult neuroscience concepts. Since there was tons of new information to memorize, it was very important to keep being interested and energetic when looking at flashcards of brain knowledge before they got tedious. The entire process of preparation was a lot of fun for I really enjoyed exploring and challenging my brain. Even though none of us from our school was qualified to the country’s Regional Brain Bee, it was worth to learn a lot of fun facts of the brain. We will definitely try it again next year!
Samantha Wang is a IV Form boarding student from Nanchang, China. She likes eating and cooking, enjoys reading and traveling, and loves to spend time with her family.