Holland Park student outsmarts tough competition

21 Jul 2010

Esmi Zajaczkowski from Holland Park has been crowned the 2010 Queensland Brain Bee Champion in a battle of neuroscience knowledge held in Brisbane.

The Holland Park State High School student outsmarted more than 4,500 competitors from across Queensland to take out the title.

In the state final, held at the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland yesterday, Esmi competed against 116 students in a brain-teasing question and answer session in front of a live audience.

Questions for the Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) quiz came from a free, downloadable booklet called Brain Facts, which many students have been studying for months.

“I did a lot of background research on the internet because the language in the book was really difficult. We don’t do neuroscience at school, so it was a good opportunity to learn a lot of new words,” the 14-year-old said.

“I wanted to win this so much. If I didn’t win I knew I’d be in tears. I wanted this so badly, I haven’t thought of anything else for the past week.”

The competition is designed to challenge the best and brightest high school students, while also giving them unprecedented access to world-renowned neuroscience facilities.

As part of the final, students toured QBI’s state-of-the-art research facilities, met with world-renowned neuroscientists and were given a rare opportunity to quiz Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Penny Sackett.

“We’re very excited that Esmi will be representing Queensland. The students have had a fantastic day touring the Institute and meeting the scientists who work in the Queensland Brain Institute,” ABBC organiser and QBI researcher Professor Linda Richards said.

However the hard work does not stop here for Esmi. She will now travel to Auckland for the Australian Brain Bee Challenge national final in January.

“It’ll help me get into university and give me an opportunity to do more things like this,” she said.


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Anna Bednarek
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Notes to the Editor:
The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is the country’s largest neuroscience competition for high school students. The competition is designed to test school students’ knowledge about a range of topics, including intelligence, memory, emotions, sleep, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. In 2010, more than 10,000 students are expected to take part nationally.
The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of the University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute is now operating out of a new $63 million state-of-the-art facility and houses 28 Principal Investigators with strong international reputations. The QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.