Brainy kids cheered on by rugby star and New Zealand top scientist

Warriors rugby player Lance Hohaia will launch the national final of the Brain Bee Challenge next week.

Students from all over New Zealand and Australia will battle it out in the competition as part of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Conference, which is being held at the SkyCity Convention Centre in Auckland. Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, will present the winners with their prizes.

The Brain Bee Challenge aims to teach high school students about brain diseases and scientific careers. Lance is a supporter of brain research to help find cures for sports players with brain and spinal injuries.

“As a professional athlete I need to take good care of my body”, Lance says. “To help me perform at my best I need to look after the computer that controls it all, my brain. Your brain is a very powerful tool and its capabilities are staggering. Any additional knowledge we can gather will help us all understand how complex and important this organ really is. Professional sport tests you physically but it also tests your mental capacity. If there is a way to know more about how your brain functions I would definitely like to know as it would help me to improve as a person and an athlete.”

The North Island competitor is Rachel Wiltshire from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington. The South Island competitor is Kerstin McEwan from Riccarton High School in Christchurch. Eight students from Australia will also take part in the competition.

The students will be tested with anatomy tests and patient diagnosis at the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at The University of Auckland on January 31st. The Brain Bee Challenge Final, a question and answer session at SkyCity Convention Centre, will be held at 12pm on February 1st.

The winners from both New Zealand and Australia will compete in the international finals in Florence in Italy later this year.

A number of spokespeople are available for comment including:

Australia

ANS President Professor Sarah Dunlop
Brain Bee Challenge Coordinator Professor Linda Richards
Winner of the competition

New Zealand

Warriors Rugby Player Lance Hohaia
Brain Bee Challenge Coordinator Professor Louise Nicholson
CBR Director Professor Richard Faull
Winner of the competition

The ANS conference will be held at SkyCity Convention Centre from January 31st to February 3rd 2011. The Brain Bee Challenge Final will run from 12pm-2pm on February 1st. The award presentation will take place at 5pm.  

Please contact the Centre for Brain Research to arrange interviews.

For more information about the Brain Bee Challenge please visit the Brain Bee website.

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