Science minds excel in battle of grey matter
WHILE most Queensland school students put the feet up for a well-earned holiday break in July, four Goodna Christian College students were testing their neuroscience know-how.
Year 10 students Markus Brits, Nicole McGrath, Kelly Seager and Lexie Martin were among 137 state finalists in the Brain Bee Challenge State Finals in the University of Queensland.
Markus, the cricket-loving, unassuming 15-year-old, finished third in the state, a remarkable achievement given the talent on show.
The Brain Bee Challenge is the nation's premier high school neuroscience competition.
Organised by the prestigious Queensland Brain Institute at UQ, the Brain Bee Challenge aims to motivate students to pursue careers in the most challenging of fields.
While most adults would struggle to define terms like dopamine or basal ganglia, Brain Bee contestants were well versed in a range of topics related to intelligence, memory, emotions, stress, ageing, sleep and Alzheimer's disease.
Students were given university-level texts to study in preparation, including those published by The British Neuroscience Association.
Brain Bee Queensland co-ordinator Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen said finalists had an opportunity to tour QBI's research facilities and be exposed to cutting-edge research.
"The state final brings together some of the brightest young minds we have in Queensland, who are exactly the ones we'll be relying on to become the next generation of scientists,” Associate Professor van Swinderen said.
Markus said the competition reaffirmed his love for the discipline.
"One look at QBI and I knew this was the career path for me,” he said.
"Neuroscience is the science of the future. This competition helped me to see that.”
His sentiments were supported by Nola Leverton, Instructional Dean of Science at Westside Christian College.
"These are great results. These four students are well-supported by their Science classroom teachers and support staff and we celebrate their results,” she said.
Student Lexie Martin said more young women were showing an interest in science.
"Three quarters of Westside's state finalists are females. We're changing the face of science in Australia,” she said.