The North Island regional final of the New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge was held on the 21st June 2023. This year marks the 17th anniversary of the North Island Brain Bee Challenge held in the Centre for Brain Research at Auckland University.

One hundred and seventy students from 38 North Island schools converged on the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland to compete in the Teams and the Individual participant competition.

Students also interacted with university students and staff scientists and heard an inspiring talk from our guest speaker, Dr Justin Rustenhoven, about his research and career to date. A highlight for the students is visiting the AMRF Learning Centre and other displays, watching some science in action and engaging with scientists in a ‘meet the scientists’ and careers in science session.

The chance to visit the university greatly incentivises students to participate in the competition and it has a significant impact on some students – a current second year pharmacology student relayed how me she took part in the Brain Bee in 2019 and the visit inspired her to pursue studies in biomedical science and neuroscience.

The Brain Bee competition was exciting, and first place in the team’s competition went to a mixed Baradene College/Palmerston North Boys High School team, with second place awarded to a team from Rototuna High School/Te Aroha College. Finally, students from St Cuthbert’s School for Girls was awarded third place. The orgniseers were pleased to see a good mix of schools do well in the team’s event, and the teacher from Rototuna High School was absolutely thrilled to place highly in both finals as a first-time competitor.

For the individual Brain Bee competition, the top 10 highest-scoring students from the Round 2 online quiz were selected to participate in a final live quiz round to crown the North Island Brain Bee champion.

Auckland schools dominated the top positions, with two students from Rototuna High School making the final. There was fierce competition, and it was clear that the top place-getters had a strong understanding of the material. Xin-Xin Zhu from St Cuthbert’s College was this year’s competition winner and North Island Brain Bee Champion. Anna Li from Macleans College was second and third place went to Kate Healy from Rototuna High School. It was a very close competition, with Xin-Xin winning in a sudden death round. She will go onto compete for the New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge Champion title in Brisbane, Australia later in the year at the Australasian Neuroscience Society meeting. The Australian state/region winners will compete in the same event to determine the Australian Brain Bee champion.

CatWalk Chairman, David Pretorius, was on hand to present at the prize giving, and was thanked for the ongoing support that CatWalk gives to the overall success of the event.

Dr Darren Svirskis and Catherine Kerins are to be congratulated for planning and presenting an informative day, with a great opportunity for networking and opening conversations between stakeholders who all have a common goal
– to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

CatWalk Magazine Stories - Research News - Brain Bee Challenge
CatWalk Magazine Stories - Research News - Brain Bee Challenge
CatWalk Magazine Stories - Research News - Brain Bee Challenge
CatWalk Magazine Stories - Research News - Brain Bee Challenge
Catwalk Magazine – December 2023
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