High school students battle in annual Brain Bee at Mac
How many cranial nerves are there in the human head?
There are 12. And if you didn’t know it — join the club.
Perhaps just the 15 competitors in a packed lecture hall at McMaster University on Saturday afternoon could answer that one.
It was one of dozens of brain-busting questions that left most spectators scratching their heads at the 10th annual Canadian National Brain Bee championship — a competition of neuroscience knowledge at the high school level.
Prerana Keerthi of Toronto is the top brain in Canada, taking the title after a gruelling final round of 20 questions that had to be answered orally — and in less than seven minutes.
Students were tested on their knowledge of neuroscience including memory, sleep, intelligence, emotion, stress and brain imagining — to name a few.
Keerthi walked away with a $1,500 cash prize and an internship in a neuroscience laboratory. Keerthi also now goes on to compete at the International Brain Bee later this summer in Washington, D.C.
“It’s above what we are doing in school. I felt pretty anxious,” said 16-year-old Milton student Denzil Boyd Jr., who made it to the Top 3 and earned a $500 cash prize.
“I feel very honoured,” Boyd said. He plans to carve out a career in neuroscience research.
His mother was at the competition, beaming.
“He always strives for the best and he works very hard,” said Nicola Boyd.
For the second-place contestant, Guelph’s Sydney Johnson, the best part was the first round patient diagnosis simulation. Using real human brains in the McMaster anatomy lab, students first had to identify parts of the brain.
“I studied sheep brains to do it,” said the Grade 12 high school student who heads to the University of Guelph in the fall to study microbiology. Like Boyd, she wants to go into neuroscience research.
Her win netted a $1,000 cash prize.