The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is a competition for high school students in year 10 to learn about the brain and its functions, learn about neuroscience research, find out about careers in neuroscience and to dispel misconceptions about neurological and mental illnesses.
The program was started in Australia in 2006 to address a number of deficiencies in the public's perception of science in general, and neuroscience in particular.
The ABBC provides current and accurate information on the latest advances in neuroscience research, its value to the community, and promote careers in science and technology.
The ABBC aims:
- to highlight what the brain does, how it functions and how important it is to everything we do and who we are as human beings. Simple knowledge of this nature provides self-esteem, dispels superstitions and misconceptions (for example topics such as where emotions reside), and explains the importance of enhancing your brain's potential through learning, exercise and avoidance of illicit drugs.
- to educate teachers and students on the latest scientific findings and to explain how important research and discovery is to our community, as well as to generally improve scientific literacy in our community.
- to provide opportunities for students from remote areas of Australia and New Zealand to participate in the competition and to challenge all students to consider a career in Science and Neuroscience in particular.
- to promote the study of neuroscience as a multidisciplinary endeavour (encompassing all basic scientific disciplines including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, medicine and bio- and nano-technologies). The future of all fields of science is that disciplines that once seemed to have no relevance to one another are now coming together and science education is lagging behind this advance. Neuroscience can help bridge these disciplines.
The Brain Bee Challenge Rounds
There are 4 Rounds to the Australian Brain Bee Challenge;
Round 1 - Online Quiz
Round 1 is held during Brain Awareness Week. Students study the book Neuroscience: Science of the Brain. An Introduction for Young Students by The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) and European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB). They then complete an on-line quiz in their schools under exam conditions to determine their knowledge and understanding of the structure and function of the brain.
Round 2 - Regional Finals
Round 2 of the competition is the State Finals, held in each State and Territory in Australia. Students who achieve a high score in Round 1 are invited to attend a full day of activities at a university campus or research institution. The Round 2 study book is Brain Facts, 2012 Edition by the Society from Neuroscience.
As well as participating in two rounds of live questioning to determine who will become the State or Territory champion, students also experience a day filled with activities to educate them about neuroscience research. This may include lab tours, demonstrations, lectures, experiments and the opportunity to speak to researchers. There is also a team competition on the day where schools compete against each other to win prizes for their school.
The State Finals are held between June and August.
Round 3 - National Finals
Round 3 is the National Finals where 8 Australian students compete against each other to become the Australian Brain Bee Challenge Champion. Round 3 has been held annually since 2007 at the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS) conference.
Students compete in 4 challenges, held over 2 days including an anatomy challenge, a written short answer challenge, a patient diagnosis challenge and a live question and answer challenge. Students also have the opportunity to attend ANS scientific sessions and meet with scientists, researchers and students involved in neuroscience.
Round 4 - International Finals
Round 4 is the International Brain Bee (IBB). The IBB takes place at an international neuroscience/psychology conference and in the past has been held in places such as America and Italy.
- In 2012 the IBB was held in South Africa and the Australian representative, from Brisbane, Teresa Tang won the competition.
- Vienna, Austria was the host city in 2013 where Australian representative, also from Brisbane, Jackson Huang took out first prize.
- Washington DC hosted the 2014 IBB and the winner was Gayathri Muthukumar of Bangalore, India.