This year's Brain Bee winners had the opportunity to experience the Centre for Brain Research for a day.

The Brain Bee competition is one way that the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) empowers young people to explore the possibilities of neuroscience. As part of the international Brain Bee, the aim of the competition is to expand the knowledge of young people and inspire a career in science, neuroscience in particular. Each year, students study from a set of online neuroscience modules and participate in the online quiz, with the hope that their scores qualify them to attend the regional finals.

The 2019 North Island Regional finals were held in August this year at the University of Auckland. More than 180 students attended the event where they not only competed for top team and individual winner status, they got a taste of University life. One of the new features of the competition was the opportunity to win a day’s experience at the Centre for Brain Research.

Over two days in the term three school holidays, we welcomed 10 lucky students from across the North Island into the Centre for Brain Research. The students, accompanied by their parents, were able to meet with scientists and talk to them about their path through high school to university, what subjects they took and how they ended up working here at the CBR. With wide and varied careers, it was a great opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of science and passions at the centre.  

The students were able to visit the labs to see research in action, and learn about the New Zealand Neurological Human Brain Bank, look through the microscopes, step into a lecture, visit the teaching labs and also learn how human cells are being grown in the lab and used to test potential treatments. This was a unique offering crafted specifically for this group of students to learn more about neuroscience and University life at a time when they are trying to figure out what they like and don’t like doing ahead of selecting their year 12 study programmes.

The Brain Bee is one of our major outreach activities that is targeted at year 11 high school students and is aimed at sparking an interest in neuroscience. Incorporating lab tours and meet-the-scientists sessions the day of the North Island final also provides us with a way to showcase neuroscience and the breadth of neuroscience research being done at the University of Auckland.

Associate Professor Deborah Young Brain Bee New Zealand National Coordinator

The Centre for Brain Research is located within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences; however it is broad-reaching with members working at the many other faculties, schools and departments, including Bioengineering, Science and Dance as well as key stakeholders based within district health boards.At the heart of the centre is the shared goal to unlock the secrets of the brain through collaboration and investigation.

Brain disease affects one in five New Zealanders and will become more common as the population ages, having a huge personal, social and economic impact on family and society – together we seek answers and novel treatments for these dreadful diseases.