• Australia-New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge

    6 June, 2014

    2,300 students competed in the first round of the Brain Bee Challenge in NSW. Alexandra Corbett-Jones (Year 10) scored so highly that she was one of just 138 students selected to compete in the NSW finals of the competition.

    The NSW finalists attended a full day of activities at the Campbelltown Campus of the University of Western Sydney on June 4th. Alexandra was tested on her anatomical knowledge of the structures and functions of the brain. Alexandra missed out, but the top 10 students from that round then participated in two rounds of live questioning to determine who became the state champion.

    Teachers and parents were given a guided tour of the medical school, which offers innovative and dynamic programmes in the medical sciences. The school has a strong research focus and is heavily involved in advancements in treating diseases such as Alzheimer's, as well as creating a bionic eye.

    Alexandra also had the opportunity to be involved in a range of activities to educate her about neuroscience and neuroscience researchers. This included laboratory tours, demonstrations, lectures, experiments and the opportunity to speak to researchers. It was an incredible feat to be selected to progress to the second round of the competition and a great experience for Alexandra.

    Mrs Sarah O’Neill (Independent Learning Centre)

    Alexandra's Report on the Challenge

    On Wednesday, 4th June, Mrs Sarah O'Neill, my Mum (Jane) and I travelled to the University of Western Sydney, in Campbelltown, to compete in Round 2 of the neurology competition (Brain Bee state finals). After making it through Round 1 that over 2,000 other students competed in, I was selected along with 138 other students from various schools as the top 10%. We were to compete in the state finals, where a winner would be flown to Perth to compete in the nationals. The winner of the nationals would be then sent to places such as Florence (in Italy) to compete in the international round. The chances of me getting through the state finals were very slim, as there were large selective schools such as James Ruse, let alone the international round, but I made the most of the opportunity.


    All the students had to complete two tests. It was based on a 90 page textbook we had been given that explained many different parts of the brain and how it worked. Part A of the test was questions that were from any part of the textbook. There were 15 questions to each section and no multiple choice questions. Part B was questions about the anatomy of the brain and I found that a lot easier - although the questions themselves were difficult and hard to answer.

    Once these tests were finished we got the chance to go up to the prac labs of the university. This was very enjoyable as we got to pulse electricity onto the nerves in our wrist and watch our fingers and hand twitch. We were also fortunate to listen to leading scientists in various neurology studies, as they talked about their findings in certain areas such as bionic eyes, dementia and Huntington's disease. 

    Whilst I didn't get through to the final round, I had a great day and learnt a lot about the most important organ in our bodies- our brain.

    I would also like to thank Mrs O'Neill for organising the whole day and for encouraging me and supporting me throughout the whole process.

    Alexandra Corbett-Jones (Year 10)




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