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WHS student takes state 'Brain Bee' title

There's plenty of knowledge competitions where students need to use there brain to answer test questions, but the Brain Bee takes it one step further and has them use their brain to answer questions about the brain.

Three Woodbury High School students, juniors Amy Sun and Joan Park and senior Grace Park competed in the State Brain Bee competition at the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota on Feb. 11. Sun snatched the victory by one point.

"It was fun because I learned a lot of stuff which sounds really nerdy I know," Sun said.

The Brain Bee competition asks competitors questions from a book titled "Brain Facts," about brain morphology, physiology, diseases, drug use effects and development.

"I kind of have an interest in neuroscience and I thought it would be a cool way to learn more about the brain," Sun said. "I wasn't really thinking 'Oh I need to win' or anything."

Both Joan and Grace mimicked Sun's statements saying that neither of them entered the competition solely to win, they had an interest in the subject and wanted to learn more.

"I really want to go into neuroscience but it's going to be really hard if I don't have the basics," Gracesaid.

Joan, on the other hand, doesn't have any aspirations to go into neuroscience or neurology specifically but sees the benefits of having that knowledge.

"The brain effects everything so it's just a good background to have," she said.

The girls said they had a little bit of difficulty finding the time to study and prepare for the competition since finals were the week before.

"It was a last minute cram session," Grace said. "We all studied the book the night before."

All three girls agreed that they had their fair share of nerves during the competition, but they always felt like all of the competitors were really well matched.

"I didn't know all the answers, but it seemed like nobody was way ahead of anyone," Joan said. "We all made mistakes; nobody was perfect."

Sun said she was even missing a lot of questions in the final round of competition and she had begun to lose her optimism in winning.

"In the beginning of the final round I was getting a ton of questions wrong and I was totally behind," she said. "I was like 'This is hopeless.'"

Sun will be flying out to Baltimore at the end of March to compete in the National Brain Bee competition, which now includes neuro-anatomy, and she said this time around she is switching up her game plan a little.

"I'm not going to study last minute for this," she said. "I'm probably going to take this more seriously but just the experience of being able to study the brain and learn all of these things is probably the most important to me; If I don't win, it's not the end of the world for me."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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