Brain Bee Held at Hockaday over the Weekend

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Dr. Hailey Speed, a neuroscience a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas,  clears her throat before enunciating the question before her. A group of girls armed with notepads and pens, awaiting with anticipation for Speed to reveal the question, sits in front of her. The clock is set for 40 seconds. After the question is posed, the timer is started. The round has begun.

The scene is the Brain Bee, an annual event that tests students’ overall knowledge of the brain. This past Saturday, Jan 14., the third annual Bee was held at Hockaday. Hosted by the Neuroscience Club, this competition allows students from across the DFW area to participate in a contest quizzing them over the brain. The winner of this competition has the ability to advance to the national round.

Hockaday science teacher Dr. Katie Croft, who is responsible for bringing the Brain Bee to Dallas, is the sponsor of the Neuroscience Club and helps host and run the event.  Croft applied to be a local coordinator for the organization, which then allowed her to organize the competition within the DFW area. She did so with the help of alumna Heather Xiao ‘16, who started the Neuroscience Club at Hockaday several years ago. The first Brain Bee in Dallas took place three years ago and has been held at Hockaday ever since.

“[The Brain Bee] is a partnership between myself and the Neuroscience Club,” Croft said. “It really helps instill a love of neuroscience in the students and explore different questions that they have about the brain.”

Within the Bee, there are three different rounds. First, 20 questions of a moderate level are asked. As one of the judges, Speed reads off each question. After hearing the question, the students write down their answer on a provided piece of notepad, tear it out and then place it under their chairs. They continue in this manner for all 20 questions of the first round.

After the first round, the student’s submissions are judged. Only the top contenders of that first round advance to the second. In the second round, only 10 questions at a higher difficulty level are asked. Once again, the student’s write down their answers, placing their cards under their chair to be judged.

After these are judged, the top three contestants of that round advance on to the third and final round.  In this round, five questions only are asked, considered to be of the most extreme difficulty. After the round, the submissions are judged. The first place winner is then chosen, with the other two claiming the titles of second and third.

Once the round is over, the submissions are judged. The first place winner is then chosen, with the other two claiming the titles of second and third.  

This year, Christine Ji, junior at Hockaday, won first place in the annual Brain Bee. Second place went to Sophia Lin from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science school, and third place to Chaucer Langer, sophomore at Hockaday.

Ji has been a member of the neuroscience club for 3 years now, first joining as a freshman. For the past three years that the Bee has been held, Ji has claimed first place title each time, even going as far to advance to the National Brain Bee competition her freshman year.

“I am always curious about how things work. That’s what’s interesting about neuroscience to me, that it’s reducing human consciences and all of our history and everything that makes us so uniquely human to just chemicals and molecules moving around. It’s just odd to think about human consciousness in that way,” Ji said.

Senior Erin Blotcky is the president of the Neuroscience club this year and was involved in the judging of the cards during the Bee. She has been a part of the neuroscience club for multiple years now and has since then developed a passion for the brain.

“A couple of years ago at a summer program I dissected a human brain,” Blotcky said. “After that I wanted to get more involved and learn more about it, so that was the tipping point of what brought me over.”

Sophomore Chaucer Langbert is also a member of the Neuroscience club. Like Blotcky, she has participated in summer programs which, in turn, have sparked her interest in neurology. Consequently, she joined the club to pursue interest in the brain.

“I went to camps over the summer, which were about psychology, and that started my interest in neurology,” Langbert said. “The Brain Bee club, I thought, was the best was to pursue that interest. I really love the brain.”


– Charlotte Dross – Staff Writer –