Monday, January 26, 2009

Brain Bee at Georgia State Opens Doors to Neuroscience and Beyond

As a student at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., Stephanie Wang put her knowledge of neuroscience to the test during the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience’s Brain Bee — a two-round competition where high school students learn more about the complexities of the mind and brain.

And it opened not just new opportunities to explore a field that seeks to unlock those mysteries, but also to hands-on experience in science.

“It not only gave me some background on the subject, but it also allowed me to see fun and modern applications of neuroscience, and its importance,” said Wang, now a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in chemical biochemical engineering.

Georgia students in grades 9-12 will also have this horizon-opening opportunity to explore neuroscience during the 2009 Georgia Regional Brain Bee on Feb. 7 at Georgia State University. The event is sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and the Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.

“The Brain Bee is a challenging and fun educational activity,” said Kyle Frantz, an associate professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State and a CBN educator. “Students learn about a wide variety of topics, including brain anatomy, brain development, aging and neurodegeneration, as well as other curiosities of the nervous system like learning and memory, sleep, and stress.”

Atlanta is one of 36 cities around the world hosting a Brain Bee regional competition, where students take a multiple choice test, and then participate in an oral competition similar to a spelling bee. The Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience will sponsor the winner of the Georgia Regional Brain Bee and an adult chaperone to attend the National Brain Bee in Baltimore in March 2009.

After competing in the Brain Bee, Wang met CBN researchers and later went on to intern in Carruth’s laboratory during her junior year of high school during the CBN’s research program for high schoolers called the Institute On Neuroscience (ION) — giving Wang invaluable experience which helps her today in her college career.

“It definitely helped me in getting a step ahead in my high school biology classes, but more importantly, it helped to open doors to research,” Wang said.

For more information about the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience or the Brain Bee, visit www.cbn-atl.org.

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