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2nd Annual Toronto Brain Bee 2000

The Program in Neuroscience and Dept. of Physiology hosted a neuroscience competition for High School students on Friday afternoon, February 11. 28 students from 10 different Toronto schools took part in this oral competition modeled after a "spelling bee". The first place winner was Yvonne Chan from UTS, second prize went to Michelle Mok, also from UTS and in third place was Jacob Shin from Etobicoke Collegiate. The winner of our local contest, Yvonne Chan, will take part in the International Brain Bee competition organized by the University of Maryland in Baltimore on March 15 where the winners from 45 other local University-sponsored competitions will be participating. The winner of the International Brain Bee receives a prize of US$3000. David Alpay, last year's winner of our local contest, was also the winner of the International Brain Bee in 1999. Many thanks to Martin Wojtowicz who was in charge of this year's contest and to PIN members Drs. Karen Davis and Mary Pat McAndrews and graduate students Greg Molnar, Bob Kotecha, Dennis Liu and Andrew Millar who helped run the competition.


2000 INTERNATIONAL BRAIN BEE


It was a tribute to perseverance. The young lady who won second place last year, won first place this year in the National Brain Bee Competition. On March 15, 2000, high school students from all over the country came to Maryland to compete for top honors in the second National Brain Bee held at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. The best young brains in our country (and Canada!) were quizzed about the brain and how it relates to intelligence, memory, emotions, sensations, movement, stress, aging, sleep and brain disorders, such as addiction, Alzheimer's, and stroke. To qualify for the Nationals, the competitors were required to win their own cities' local brain bee competitions that were held this winter.

It was Otilia Husu from Mountain Ridge High School of the small town of Glendale, Arizona who beat out the other competitors and earned the right to be called the "Best Brain." She also won a $3000 scholarship donated by Brain.com and brought the traveling "Best Brain" Trophy back to the United States.

Last Year's winner, David Alpay, was from Toronto, Canada. It was an unbelievable finish in 1999, with Otilia and David withstanding the barrage of questions for more than twenty rounds after every other competitor had been eliminated. David did not compete this year, but was present to present the trophy to the new champion. The trophy is 3 feet tall and is held by the annual winner's high school. The second, third, fourth and fifth place winners were Nikhil Rao, Kathleen Rubritz, Kejia Sun, and Ashish Bhatt. (This year's U of T Brain Bee winner, Yvonne Chan, made it to the finals of the International Brain Bee.)

The day following the National Bee, all of the competitors were the guests of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. They met for 2 hours with the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Alan Leshner, and representatives from of the Institutes of Mental Health, Aging, and Deafness and Communication Disorders. They were also invited to an NIH Symposium where they all sat in the front row and were introduced individually by name, city and state, to the hundreds of scientists in attendance. The long applause brought excitement and pride in the faces of these young men and women.

The National Brain Bee is directed by Dr. Norbert Myslinski and is part of International Brain Awareness Week (March 13-29). BAW is an effort by brain scientists to educate the public about the importance of brain research. It is spearheaded by The DANA Alliance and the Society for Neuroscience.

Our knowledge of the brain has more than doubled during the Decade of the Brain. According to Dr. Myslinski, "We need to increase the public understanding of brain disorders, their appreciation of brain research, and their ability to apply this new knowledge to their daily lives.

"This is the most exciting time in history to be part of this final frontier. The National Brain Bee is an attempt to motivate our youth to learn about the brain, capture their imagination, and inspire them to pursue careers in biomedical brain research. We need their energy and their passion to fight and win the war against mental retardation, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and other brain disorders."The Program in Neuroscience and Dept. of Physiology once again hosted a neuroscience competition for High School students on Wednesday afternoon, February 21, 2001. Twenty-four students from 9 different Toronto schools took part in this oral competition modeled after a "spelling bee". The first place winner was Marvin Chum from Earl Haig Secondary School, second prize went to Vivien Tang from University of Toronto Schools and in third place was Michelle Lao also from Earl Haig. The winner of our local contest, Marvin Chum, will take part in the International Brain Bee competition organized by the University of Maryland in Baltimore on March 13 where the winners from 42 other local University-sponsored competitions will be participating. Prizes for the International Brain Bee will again be $3000 for first place, $2000 for second place, and $1000 for third place. Many thanks to Drs. Karen Davis and Mary Pat McAndrews for running the competition and graduate students Jonathan Downar, Chun Kwan, Chris Tsang and Jacky Yeung for their assistance