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BRAIN BEE CHALLENGE

18/08/2016
by Meghann Plant, Year 10
The discipline of neuroscience is applicable to all aspects of everyday life, whether through conscious or unconscious actions. The Australian Brain Bee Challenge is a competition targeted at high school students in Year Ten to promote neuroscience as a possible future career, and to spread appreciation of the exemplary advancements that have been made in this field, and the impact they have had on our lives.
An initial quiz was undertaken by approximately 1500 students from 47 schools, questions for which were derived from a study book. Of these students, approximately 140 students from across Queensland from 42 schools were selected to participate in the Queensland State Final of the completion, situated at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) of the University of Queensland’s St. Lucia campus.
Four Year Ten students from Kingaroy State High School were selected to travel to Brisbane and participate in the state final. Josh Ariola, Kathleen Gogerly, Lize Potgieter and I all braved an early morning on Tuesday the 19th of July to travel to QBI as state finalists in the competition. In order to have a knowledge of the information which we may have needed to know for the competition, a second book was studied which formed the foundation of the quiz. Accompanied by Miss Wilson, students arrived at QBI where neuroscientists introduced the basis of the quiz and reviewed some of their research pursuits. This preceded the individual challenge, which consisted of 15 questions derived from the book, and a 15 question anatomy challenge.
Following these tests, students undertook laboratory tours which identified some research and technological pursuits at QBI. These included the insertion of fluorescent genes into creatures, such as C. elegans in order to study nerve degeneration and regeneration after injury, seeing individual genes in the worm, microscopy, 3D printing, the process of gaining information through eye tracking, transcranial magnetic stimulation, as well as examining actual human brains dedicated to research, some after neurological deaths, such as strokes, which were evident in the samples. These laboratory tours were fascinating and provided insight into various fields of neuroscience and their applications in everyday life, whether these were imaging techniques, technologies or research into certain aspects of the brain’s functioning.
Although none of Kingaroy’s students achieved top ten, watching those students who did was interesting and thought-provoking. The students then enjoyed collaborating and communicating in the team challenge to somewhat entertaining results. Then departing from the University of Queensland for Kingaroy, we left having had an excellent and enthralling educational experience.