What is the Vermont Brain Bee? Simply put, it’s both a competition and an experience, featuring speakers, access to lab specimens, and other students who love learning about the Brain!
The Brain Bee is divided into multiple sections, each of which tackle an important area of the field of neuroscience. Whether you’re interested in dissecting brains or working with patients, there’s something for you here!
The competition parts of the Brain Bee are the written, oral, and practical sections. See Below for Details.
The Brain Bee, Broken Down
I. Written Test
Answer 50 multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions based on the Brain Facts Book (see prepare tab); topics range from diseases to the science of sleep.
Sample Question: What types of cells help guide migration during neurodevelopment?
A) Motor Neurons
B) Afferent Nerve Fibers
C) Radial Glia
D) Efferent Nerve Fibers
Answer: Radial Glia! (These are helper cells in the brain that create ‘scaffolding’ for developing neural cells)
II. Practical Test
Go into the neurology lab and identify various anatomical structures. Check out the Brain Bee Boot Camp for hands on exploration!
Sample Question: What Brain Area is Highlighted In This Diagram?
A: The Hypothalamus!
Dr. Feyza Basoglu and Dr. Sharon Leech, who each specialize in psychology professions, will present two case studies of patients with various neurological and psychological disorders. Students will ask questions and use their knowledge to diagnose the patient. This section is for enrichment and not graded. The National Brain Bee does include a graded diagnosis section.
Disorders include: Major Depression, Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy
Example: Patient seems very anxious, evidenced by stuttering and frequent clearing of the throat. They also report some sleep problems and uncontrollably wince frequently.
Diagnosis: Probable Tourette’s syndrome, given both a vocal (throat clearing) and motor (wincing) tic.
III. Oral Round
The Oral Round is a round where questions are flashed on the screen, and participants have one minute to write them down before moving on to the next question. The 30 questions asked get progressively difficult.
The 2021 Brain Bee’s Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Gary Mawe, who is a gastroenterologist, or a neuroscientist of the digestive system. He studies the production of serotonin in the GI tract. His talk “The Little Brain in the Gut” will be window into a different type of neuroscience and its applications. This section is also not graded.
IV. Final Round
The top eight students with the highest cumulative score from the practical, written, and oral rounds advance to a final oral round. They answer 15 progressively difficult questions, with 30 seconds to answer each one.
Sample Question: Which brain receptors are blocked by caffeine in order to reduce sleepiness?
Answer: Adenosine Receptors!
V. Panel Discussion
College students who study neuroscience and related fields will lead a panel discussion. Students have the opportunity to ask their burning questions about neuroscience, research, and college in general as final scores are tallied up.
The top three individuals and top three teams will be acknowledged. The top individual competitor will win a trip to compete in National Brain Bee later that year!