Neuroscience competition tests young brains

High school students gather at MUN School of Medicine

Published on May 3, 2014
Dozens of high school students were at Memorial University’s School of Medicine in St. John’s Saturday for the Brain Storm competition to test their knowledge of the brain. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

High schools students racked their brains in St. John’s Saturday to come up with the right answers to questions focused specifically on that hotbed of neurons.

The Brain Storm competition had close to 40 students attempting to earn the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research National Brain Bee event later this month in Hamilton, Ont.

Jane Cooze from Pearson Academy in New-Wes-Valley was the winner of Saturday's event.

Hosted by the Newfoundland Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience at the Memorial University School of Medicine in St. John’s, students qualified for the competition by taking a multiple-choice test. Those questions were based on content included in a British Neuroscience Association booklet.

According to Brain Storm co-organizer Brian Roome, the competition gives high school students a chance to consider a career in neuroscience.

“What our end goal is, is to increase the number of skilled and passionate students that want to study neuroscience, just to get them into here,” said Roome, who is also a science technician for MUN’s Faculty of Medicine.

Attempting to delve into brain functions slightly beyond what’s covered in high school, the competition requires participants to consider matters such as the brain's functional substructures.

Round 1 of the competition in-volved a written test. Round 2 went into oral questioning, and the third and final round had three competitors remaining.

Second place finisher Hamza Shogan of Gander Collegiate and third place contestant Liam Gregory from Prince of Wales Collegiate in St. John's were each awarded cash prizes. In between rounds, groups of student had the opportunity to visit research floors at the School of Medicine.

“We'll walk them through a lot of the techniques and procedures of professional research, so they can see exactly how neuroscience research is performed,” said Roome.

The winner of the national competition will represent Canada this August at the International Brain Bee in Washington, D.C.