Students shine in Brain Bee challenge


A group of 22 students proved that anything is possible – if you put your mind to it!

The Year 11 group had committed to taking part in this year’s New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge, but because of lockdown, lost the chance to physically participate in the regional finals – which would have included lab visits and presentations from University of Auckland neuroscientists.

Not wanting to let their summer-holiday preparation go to waste, the students put their neuroscience knowledge to the test in an online quiz, run by the Centre for Brain Research during the first week of lockdown. There were 349 students participating from throughout the North Island.

“These girls should be commended for their determination, going beyond what was required of them in a very trying time to represent Westlake Girls so brilliantly,” says Head of Junior Science, Sara Corbett. “The girls collectively spent more than 345 hours preparing for this – and it’s particularly hard as the competition is only for Year 11 students, so they won’t have the chance to participate again.”

Their efforts were rewarded with the following exceptional results:

  • Moe Tun – 2nd
  • Raeanne Leow – 4th equal (with 6 others)
  • Audrey Guo – 5th equal (with 9 others)
  • Jemy Jejy – 6th equal (with 9 others)
  • Amaya Lichauco – 6th equal (with 9 others)

If New Zealand moves to Level 1, these top five students may have the opportunity to visit the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research.

Amaya Lichauco wrote this account of her experience as part of the team.

“Although we had to sit our Brain Bee tests during the first week of lockdown, the most challenging part of this experience for me was the preparation work. After my 12-hours worth of Education Perfect, I read through each of the online modules a few more times to take notes. Selecting and determining the most relevant information was a very time-consuming process, as the learning material was foreign and lengthy. I then used my notes to study, further summarising and refining them as concepts became easier to understand.

“The online test itself was straight-forward. We could sit it at any time throughout the day, as long as we had completed it by midnight. The day we sat the test was, in fact, my birthday, so I was glad the test didn’t take me too long!

“Upon completing the test, it was strange not being able to exchange my answers with others, since we couldn’t assume that our peers had finished their tests. Without these usual post-test discussions, I felt so oddly calm about my performance that I started to stress about why I was wasn’t stressed!

“Overall, participating in the 2020 Brain Bee Challenge during lockdown was a great experience that will undoubtedly be stored in my long-term memory!”

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