In 2015, 14 high schools, with 48 students competed and following three rounds of competition the winners were: Shannon Eagan (first place), Laura Newcombe (second place) and Ruby Zhang (third place). Both Shannon and Ruby were from University of Toronto Schools, while Laura was representing North Toronto Collegiate Institute. The Top Ranking Novice Participant Award went to Justin Lu (Upper Canada College).
For Shannon, the 2015 Brain Bee challenge was her third time participating at the event, reinforcing the saying that “third time’s a charm” with her first place win this year. However there was nothing “lucky” about her success as her experience in previous events and preparation for this year’s competition attend. Shannon leads a club for Brain Bee preparation at UTS. Currently in Grade 12, she is planning a future in neuroscience and will be attending McGill this Fall. Her advice for future Brain Bee competitors is to go deeper into the textbooks, to make connections between topics and chapters and to investigate material beyond the book!
Laura single handedly represented her school, North Toronto Collegiate Institute. Her motivation largely stemmed from a desire to learn, of knowing for the sake of knowing. She has twice reached the finals at the Spelling Bee of Canada competition, and found the Brain Bee a good next step. She plans to study architecture at the University of Waterloo.
The Toronto Brain Bee likes to recognize first time competitors and this year the top ranking novice participant Justin described his time at the Brain Bee as an eye opening experience. During the past school year, Justin and fellow student Elliott Birman, started a Neuroscience Club with the goal of getting other students interested in the science of the brain. We hope Justin will return for the 2016 competition.
Between the competition rounds, two short research presentations were given and lunch was provided for all of the competition participants, high school teachers and volunteers. Following the competition, all the participants were invited to visit the Anatomy Museum in the Medical Sciences Building.
Students from Branksome Hall also enjoyed a strong presence at the competition with 12 participants and their teacher Chandra Boon. The school first participated in the Brain Bee in 2014, leaving their contestants feeling they were not fully prepared. Not this year ! A Neuroscience club was formed, with three club heads — Ashley, Natalie, and Destiny — that hosted various group preparatory events for this year’s Brain Bee competition. The students took turns giving presentations on each of the topics and chapters from the Brain Bee learning materials, and recognized areas that warranted particular focus and study.