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Swara Brain Bee – Who has the Best Brain

– Vishruth Nagam

A song listened to, a walk in the park, and the colors of a rainbow–all pretty simple things that you may take for granted to understand. But these stimuli are all processed and made sense of in a barely three pound tissue, otherwise known as the brain. The brain is responsible for all of your sensations, memories, pain, and happiness, and that’s why it’s so important to learn about your brain–for in a way, you can learn more about yourself and how you function as a human being…

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This is where the Brain Bee comes in. The Brain Bee is a competition designed to expose students from ages ten to nineteen to the field of neuroscience, or the study of the brain. Each year, thousands of students compete worldwide in Brain Bee competitions at the local, regional, national, and international levels to find out who has the “best brain.” By participating in Brain Bee’s, students also have a chance to win prize money and gain tangible recognition for their knowledge and passions in neuroscience.

By participating in the Brain Bee, students will gain not only insight into recent neuroscience-related accomplishments and research, but also valuable connections to universities, who often host the Brain Bee competitions. This is a very unique opportunity for middle and high school students to visit college campuses and get excited about their academic futures. In addition, students can network with professors and other experienced judges and be inspired by their journeys pursuing neuroscience.

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The first step to engaging in the Brain Bee competition is to contact your local chapter’s Brain Bee coordinator, whose contact information can often be found with a quick Internet search, and enter your local Brain Bee. Local Brain Bee’s can be held at any time throughout the year, but are most often held during the fall and winter of each year. The first-place winners of all the local chapter Brain Bee’s will be invited to their respective regional Brain Bee, and the winner of each regional Brain Bee will get the chance to participate in the International Brain Bee.

Elementary, middle school, and high school students can start their preparation for Brain Bee competitions by reading the Society for Neuroscience’s resource “Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System.” This book is available as a free download from Brainfacts.org, and an audio version can be found in Apple iTunes. Simply Neuroscience, a nonprofit organization that I’m involved in, has also created comprehensive Brain Bee study resources that anyone on the Internet can access. For those who qualify for competitions at the regional and international levels, “Neuroscience: The Science of the Brain” is a great study resource as well. However, each local and regional Brain Bee is unique, so it is strongly recommended that you contact your specific coordinator for more information on procedures and rules in your area.

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Personally, my own Brain Bee journey started in my freshman year, when I won the North South Foundation (NSF) Sacramento Regional Senior Brain Bee. Ever since then, I’ve placed second in the Sacramento Brain Bee and have been a two-time regional champion and national finalist in the NSF Senior Brain Bee. My experiences in the Brain Bee competitions have been beyond valuable in solidifying my passions for the brain, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time interacting with my equally-enthusiastic competitors and the experienced judges. In an effort to expose my peers to the beauty of neuroscience and to the Brain Bee, I founded an International Youth Neuroscience Association chapter at my high school, through which I coach and tutor members for Brain Bee competitions–this year, three of our members were named top ten finalists in the Sacramento Brain Bee. As mentioned before, I’m now one of the directors of Simply Neuroscience; a nonprofit organization fostering students’ interests in the brain through education, outreach, and awareness; and I continue to be very passionate about spreading my love for neuroscience to all students.

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Pursuing neuroscience as a middle or high school student can be very confusing, and so I strongly encourage you to reach out to your local Brain Bee chapters and explore the Brain Bee’s website for more details. Now, go fire up your synapses!

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