Westside Students Make Neuroscience Finals

On July 18th, four Year 10 students from Westside Christian College will descend upon UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute to compete in the state finals of the Australian Brain Bee Challenge.

The Brain Bee Challenge, an initiative of the Australasian Neuroscience Society, is the premiere test of knowledge about important facts concerning intelligence, memory, emotions, sensations, movement, stress, ageing, sleep, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Chosen from a field of over 5,000 students across Australia and New Zealand, these four are not simply competing for a place in the national finals. On the day, they will attend the International Congress of Neuroethology Conference and meet and greet the world’s key neuroscience researchers and hear their keynotes addresses.

Instructional Dean of Science at Westside, Nola Leverton, is humbled by their achievements, “we are delighted that so many of our Year 10 students jump at the chance to participate each year. To then share in the excitement in hearing of their success at being selected as a State Finalist in this competition is just a further blessing.

Westside students in Brain Bee Challenge State Finals

Westside students brushing up on their neuroscience ahead of the state finals.

The competition is as fierce as it gets. To qualify, students had to demonstrate a superior knowledge of the university-level nineteen-chapter neurobiology text Neuroscience: Science of the Brain – An Introduction for Young Students, published by The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) and European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB).

Year 10 students, Lexie Martin, Kelly Seager, Markus Brits and Nicole McGrath have already begun the incredibly challenging campaign to be crowned state champions. If they are to survive the gruelling rounds of live questioning, they must first ingest the sixteen chapter university-level Brain Facts, developed by the Society for Neuroscience. Victory here will see students competing in the national, and perhaps, international, finals.

Whilst students will compete for individual glory, they will also work together in a variety of team challenges, with the opportunity to win prizes for the school. Of even greater value, this is also a chance to secure their futures. Year 10 student, Lexie is excited about the prospect “Science is a team sport. It’s all about collaboration. It will be a great opportunity for us and the school.” Markus, whose brother previously excelled in the state finals in 2016, nods in agreement.

Head of Secondary, Joshua Mansfield is justifiably proud of their achievements, saying “These are great results. These four students are well-supported by their Science classroom teachers and support staff and we celebrate their results with them because this competition requires meticulous preparation.” Standing in front of the state-of-the-art G-block labs, he reflects “I am always amazed at how well we do in these competitions, although it really shouldn’t be a surprise to me knowing how committed our teachers are, and how hardworking our students are.”

Women are a minority in the field of neuroscience. In 2009, Westside Graduate Heidi Walkden was so encouraged by the competition and the research possibilities at the Queensland Brain Institute that she chose to enter the Medical Research Field in Neuroscience. She is now completing her PhD in Neurobiology and is a strong advocate for women in the sciences. Girls make up three-quarters of Westside’s entry in the finals.

The competition is designed to promote the study of neuroscience as a multidisciplinary endeavour. According to the Australian Brain Bee Challenge website, this encompasses all scientific disciplines including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, medicine and bio- and nano-technologies. 

Westside Christian College wishes to congratulate our Year 10 students and wish them all the best in the next round of competition.

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