On June 1st the top high school students from across Canada came to McMaster University to compete for the right to be called the best brain in Canada. These are the students who won their regional competitions, so we already know they are the top of their class. They studied for weeks to prepare for challenging events that tested their knowledge of neuroscience and their skills at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy.
BACK (L-R): Dr. Judith Shedden (Chair CCNBB), Gunvir Sidhu (Edmonton), Keiler Totz (Victoria), Anokh Singh Dhillon (Vancouver), Sophia Ly (Toronto), Melanie Colvin (London), Hanna Zhang (Ottawa), Andrew Kim (Calgary), Unnimaya Sindhu (Waterloo), Noël De Sasio (Kingston), Dr. Eric Marcotte (CIHR). FRONT (L-R): Firoza Lussier (Montreal), Alina Otrin (Guelph), Sharon Yang (Hamilton), Neria Aylward (St. John's, Newfoundland).
The competition was fierce and every student performed so well. After a hot breakfast to start the day at 7am, the morning exams included a multiple choice exam followed by a walk to the neuroanatomy labs of the Education Program in Anatomy where the students were challenged with a bell-ringer exam. This required identifying structure and function of indicated areas on real human brains (two minutes at each of 20 stations). Then they faced the Patient Diagnosis exam; the competitors visited and diagnosed 11 different Standardized Patients, professionally trained to portray a patient with a brain disorder or disease. Finally, after 3.5 hours of morning tests, it is lunch time.
After lunch we enjoyed an exciting afternoon. First, there were 25 questions in open multiple choice format in the lecture hall where the students performed in front of parents and teachers (holding up A, B, C, and D cards to indicate their answers). At this point, all the scores from all the tests from morning and afternoon were added up, and the top 3 competitors advanced to the final rounds of questions. In the Elimination Rounds, a question was read aloud and the students had only 20 seconds to write down their answer and hold it up to the audience. After 15 rounds of questions, the third place winner was determined and the top two advanced to the next stage. The Final Showdown required spoken answers at the microphone, with only 15 seconds to respond. There were 15 rounds of questions with the opportunity to steal if one student provided an incorrect answer. By the end, the champion, Sharon Yang, won this round 17 to 13.
Our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners take home trophies and cash prizes ($1500 for first place; $1000 second place; $500 third place). The very top student also takes home a travelling trophy to display at their school for one year, and is given the opportunity to work as a summer intern in a neuroscience laboratory.