New Zealand’s brightest young minds compete for Brain Bee award

21 June 2011

The annual New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge gets under way this month (28 June) at The University of Auckland

More than 150 Year 11 students from secondary schools all over the North Island will be converging at the University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences to compete for the illustrious title.


The winner will then take on the best brains from the South Island and together with the Australian states will compete at the National Australia - New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge, which will be held as part of a large international neuroscience conference in the Gold Coast, Queensland in January 2012.


The Challenge consists of both team and individual competitions and tests the students on the wonders of the brain. Topics include intelligence, memory, emotions, stress, ageing, sleep, and disease such as addiction, Alzheimer’s and stroke.


Apart from testing their grey matter, the students will also visit laboratories within the Faculty and Centre for Brain Research to do hands-on experiments and talk with neuroscientists and graduate students.


Professor Louise Nicholson, who is organising the challenge, says: “The Brain Bee Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for the students and their teachers to work together to learn more about the human brain and the importance of neuroscience in our everyday lives. 


“This is an important area of science. With our ageing population it is vital that we have an understanding of the impact that diseases of the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) have on the health and economic status of New Zealand and New Zealanders themselves.


“Also neuroscience is an exciting area of modern science and can be tremendous fun.”


Professor Nicholson says that while the Brain Bee is a competition to identify the “best brains” in New Zealand it is also an opportunity to address some of the key competencies in the science curriculum with a strong focus on science communication.




The New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge, launched in 2007, encourages high school students to take an interest in the human brain and neuroscience.


The competition is held in three stages. Initially, schools run an online multiple choice quiz during Brain Awareness Week in March to determine their Brain Bee challengers. The Round Two (North and South Island competition) are held at The University of Auckland and the University of Otago, with individuals competing for a place at the National Australia-New Zealand Brain Bee Final held in conjunction with the Australian Neuroscience Society meeting. The National Brain Bee Challenge winner then has the opportunity to compete in the International Brain Bee Final. This year it will be held in Florence, Italy in conjunction with the International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO).


The 2010 overall individual Brain Bee Champion was Rachael Wiltshire from Samuel Marsden Collegiate in Wellington, while Auckland Grammar took out the 2010 team title.

BBC Round 2 2011 Schools List

ACG Parnell College 
Auckland Grammar School 
Auckland International College 
Birkenhead College 
Carmel College 
Chilton St James School 
Diocesan School For Girls 
Elim Christian College 
Epsom Girls' Grammar School 
Francis Douglas Memorial College 
Green Bay High School 
Hamilton Boys' High School 
Hamilton Girls' High School 
Kelston Girls' College 
Kristin School 
Lynfield College 
Massey High School 
Matamata College 
Mt Roskill Grammar School 
Napier Girls' High School 
Northcote College 
Onewhero Area school 
Orewa College 
Palmerston North Boys' High School 
Papatoetoe High School 
Rangitoto College 
Sacred Heart College Samuel Marsden Collegiate School - Karori 
Scots College 
St Cuthbert's College
St John's College (Hillcrest) 
St Kentigern College 
St Paul's Collegiate (Hamilton) 
St Peter's College 
St Peter's School (Cambridge)
Tauhara College 
Waiuku College 
Wanganui Girls' College 
Westlake Boys' High School 
Westlake Girls' High School
Wellington College 
Wellington Diocesan School For Girls (Nga Tawa)
Wellington High School & Com Ed Centre 
Whangarei Boys High School