The NZ Brain Bee Challenge

Launched in 2007, and supported by The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust since 2008, The Brain Bee Challenge encourages high school students to take an interest in the human brain and neuroscience.

The Challenge includes both a team competition and an individual competition, and Year 11 students compete to determine who is the “best brain” on such topics as intelligence, memory, emotions, sensations, movement, stress, aging, sleep, addiction, Alzheimer’s and stroke.

The competition is held in two stages. Initially, schools run an in-house multiple choice quiz to determine their Brain Bee challengers. The Round Two (regional finals) are held at the University of Auckland and the University of Otago, with individuals competing for a place at the Australia-New Zealand Brain Bee Final held in conjunction with the Australasian Neuroscience Society meeting.

The national Brain Bee Challenge winner then has the opportunity to compete in the International Brain Bee in the USA.

The New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge (NZBBC) is a competition for high school students in year 11 to learn about the brain and its functions, discover the latest discoveries in neuroscience research, dispel misconceptions about neurological and mental illnesses and to find out about the exciting career opportunities brain research has to offer.

The NZBBC Programme aims to

The NZBBC provides current and accurate information on the latest advances in neuroscience research, its value to the community, and promote careers in science and technology.


What the brain does, how it functions and how important it is to everything we do and who we are as human beings. Simple knowledge of this nature provides self-esteem, dispels superstitions and misconceptions (for example topics such as where emotions reside), and explains the importance of enhancing your brain’s potential through learning, exercise and avoidance of illicit drugs.


Teachers and students on the latest scientific findings and to explain how important research and discovery is to our community, as well as to generally improve scientific literacy in our community.


Opportunities for students from all areas of New Zealand to participate in the competition and to challenge all students to consider a career in Science and Neuroscience in particular.


The study of neuroscience as a multidisciplinary discipline (encompassing basic science, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, medicine and bio- and nano-technologies). The future of all fields of science is that disciplines that once seemed to have no relevance to one another are now coming together and science education is lagging behind this advance. Neuroscience can help bridge these disciplines.