Nine of the brightest Year 10 and 11 students from Australia and New Zealand will be competing in their knowledge of neuroscience at UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at St Lucia, Brisbane this weekend.
The national final of the Australia and New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) on August 3-4 includes several multilingual students, a future karate black belt, an Irish Dancing champion, enough musicians to form a band – and one student who is teaching himself Ancient Greek.
The nine finalists, five boys and four girls, have been selected from more than 4,212 students who competed in the ABBC this year.
Each finalist can expect a brain-bending two-day series of challenges, including an anatomy test, a patient diagnosis test and a neuron-blasting neuroscience quiz in front of a live audience.
Casey Linton from Somerset College on the Gold Coast will represent Queensland as she and her fellow contestants vie for the chance to win a trip to the USA in 2009 to compete at the International Brain Bee Challenge in Baltimore, Maryland.
Australia and New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge coordinator Associate Professor Linda Richards said the competition aims to increase brain awareness among young people by testing their knowledge of brain function and neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
“Fundamental research plays such an important role in understanding the brain better and discovering new ways to treat the growing number of Australians with debilitating neurodegenerative diseases and mental illnesses,” Dr Richards said.
“It's exciting that so many high school students and teachers have taken an interest in the brain and we hope the Brain Bee inspires the next generation of neuroscientists to help tackle these problems.”
Each finalist will also receive a VIP tour of QBI's recently opened $63m state-of-the art research facilities.
“For many students, this is their first look inside a research laboratory, so we introduce them to some of the many advanced technologies used in neuroscience and give them a snap-shot of what it's like to be a scientist,” Dr Richards said.
Last year's National Brain Bee champion, Quinn McGennisken from Lavala College in Traralgon, Victoria, recently placed fourth in the 2008 International Brain Bee Challenge in Montreal, Canada.
More information about the Australian Brain Bee Challenge can be found online at www.abbc.edu.au