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Australian Brain Bee Challenge 2019

Australian Brain Bee Challenge 2019

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator: Exceptional Scientists' Program

On the second day of Term 3, a group of four Year 10 CHAC students accompanied by Mrs Ellyett travelled to The University of Queensland Brain Institute to participate in Round 2 of the Australian Brain Bee Challenge. There we listened to several fascinating presentations on the link between the brain and the gut, and how changing to a healthier diet can improve cognitive function and mental health, as various nutrients important to brain function are produced by healthy gut bacteria.

We also visited several labs, seeing different research projects and experiments ranging from manipulating different parts of the human brain with a magnetic field to activate muscles in the hands, to preventing cell death in worms using gene therapies that may eventually lead to the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease in human beings.

During the day, we also completed an incredibly difficult exam based on a curriculum that all of us had studied over the holidays. None of us progressed to the next level in the individual test, but I enjoyed the opportunity to watch the students who did as they competed live in front of us in subsequent rounds.

We then participated in a collaborative team competition, where our team of four moved between various stations with questions, working with a different team at each one. I loved the opportunity to work with like-minded people, playing off each other’s strengths to reach the best answer we could. I even ran into a few people who I already knew!

Overall, I enjoyed the day, and in particular, the opportunity to see real, on-going research and collaborate with students from other schools, as well as working with other CHAC students.

Rebecca Leonard, Year 10

A couple of weeks ago, four Year 10 CHAC students took part in Round 2 of the Australian Brain Bee Challenge for 2019. This annual event was held at the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ and was a truly amazing educational experience. While both rounds of the competition proved to be a challenge for everyone, I am absolutely certain that the knowledge gained throughout the day was of great value. During the middle session, we were fortunate enough to be taken on a tour around the brain institute with each station more fascinating than the last. From examining the brain of the Tasmanian Tiger to observing ground-breaking research, the Brain Bee challenge was an experience I will never forget.

Jessica Muir, Year 10

Round 2 of the ABBC at the UQ Brain Institute was an exciting eye-opening experience for me. A particular highlight was the tour of the building. This included a virtual reality experience of coral testing in the Great Barrier Reef, observing university students in the Alzheimer’s laboratory, seeing electroencephalography in action, observing zebrafish, learning about the possibility of gene therapy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and observing the differences in brain structure in different classes of animals. This was an exciting opportunity to witness something that we wouldn’t normally experience in the classroom.

Hannah Schultz, Year 10

The state finals of the ABBC was a great experience! There was a range of events during the day and it showed us the possible pathways that we could go down if we studied neuroscience. We visited some of the leading labs in neuroscience at UQ and it was very inspiring to see some PhD students working on their research. Furthermore, the competition was very fierce and although we did not come away with the results we were striving to achieve, we learnt so much from the event. Moreover, we had the opportunity to hear from PhD students while they gave a brief presentation on their studies and learn how complex and amazing the human brain really is. Industry representatives also spoke to us about their work in researching the correlation between what we eat and how our brain reacts which was very interesting. The day was excellent, and it showed us the amazing pathways that we could pursue in the future.

Matthew Sloman, Year 10