Brain Bee 2018 tour

On July 5 2018 more than 160 students from around the North Island gathered at the University of Auckland for the New Zealand finals of the Brain Bee global neuroscience competition.

The Centre for Brain Research at the University runs the competition annually to promote neuroscience to year eleven students around New Zealand and increase brain awareness in the community.

This year’s competitors were very enthusiastic and demonstrated lots of hours of study in preparation for the quiz. Sophia Ye from ACG Parnell College won first place, with Menaal Mehamood from Westlake Boys High School and Kaia Tupu-South from Westlake Girls High School coming a close second and third.

The team competition was also fierce with overall winners Diocesan School for Girls followed by ACG Parnell College and Westlake Boys High.

For many of the students who participated in Brain Bee, it was the first visit to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and, in addition to competing in this year’s challenge, the students enjoyed exploring the labs and learning centre, meeting our scientists and hearing from previous Brain Bee winners Stefan Ivanov, Matthew Fulton and Nicholas Kondal.

The final awards were presented by Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull, Director of the Centre for Brain Research, who praised all of the students for pursuing their interest in neuroscience and making it to the second round of Brain Bee.

Participating in the Brain Bee is a life-changing experience for many participants. Connor Clemett, Phd candidate at the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility at the Centre for Brain Research, won the North Island Round of Brain Bee before coming to study at the University of Auckland. “Brain Bee was the turning point for me, where I found something I was genuinely interested in and it directed my goals toward pursuing neuroscience,” Connor says.

Previous NZ Brain Bee winner Stefan Ivanov, from Westlake Boys High School, travelled to Washington for Brain Bee in 2017.  “The Brain Bee experience was the defining experience of my high school career,” says Stefan.  “This year, as part of my International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) chapter group, I have inspired a number of students to take part in the Brain Bee challenge – reflected by the record number of Westlake Boys students taking part in the North Island Brain Bee this year,” says Stefan.

Along with previous NZ Brain Bee winner Matthew Fulton, from Auckland Grammar, Stefan has helped set up the New Zealand chapter of IYNA which links up international high school students with a passion for the field of neuroscience. 

Brain Bee is hosted by the Centre for Brain Research and sponsored by Brain Research New Zealand, the Freemasons Foundation and the CatWalk Trust with support from Sony, Mindfodd, Auckland University Press and Ems Power Cookies.