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The brainy type: Woodbury student headed to National Brain Bee

Woodbury High School senior Carolyn Domroese will compete at the National Brain Bee competition, taking place March 14 at the University of Maryland.

Woodbury High School senior Carolyn Domroese is no stranger to knowledge competitions, having competed in Science Quiz Bowl.

However, Domroese took it one step further by competing in a knowledge competition about the brain.

Domroese took first place in the Minnesota Brain Bee competition, which was held Feb. 5 at the University of Minnesota.

“I knew I would do pretty well, but since it is so competitive I wasn’t expecting to win first place,” she said.

Domroese’s win has earned her a ticket to the National Brain Bee competition, taking place March 14 at the University of Maryland.

WHS students Cole Davis and Michelle Mao also competed at the Minnesota Brain Bee competition. Mao finished sixth.

In addition to an all-expense paid trip to the National Brain Bee, Domroese also won $175 cash and a $30 gift certificate to the University of Minnesota book store.

The Brain Bee tests students’ knowledge of the human brain and such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, addictions and brain research.

“I really like knowing how the human body works,” Domroese said. “A lot of things with the brain interest me, but one thing in particular that I find interesting is how memories get solidified and the processes that happen behind that.”

In order to qualify for the Minnesota Brain Bee, Domroese had to place in the top 30 students who took a 90-question online qualifying test.

This year, about 120 students took the qualifier, Domroese said.

The questions that the students are asked are taken out of the 70-page article “Brain Facts.”

Domroese said she read through “Brain Facts” several times leading up to the state competition. On average, it took her roughly five hours to read through the article once.

“That is how I would spend most of my Saturdays,” she said.

During the state competition, Domroese and the other 29 competitors were split into two rooms where they participated in a Jeopardy-style competition.

The top three from each room moved on to the final round of questions.

“The room that I was in was really competitive,” Domroese said. “It was a little stressful towards the end. For a while there I didn’t think I was going to make it on to the final round.”

Domroese said the biggest challenge during the competition was how detailed some of the questions were.

“In some cases, there was one sentence in the entire text that had the answer,” she said. “It was hard to recall all those details.”

Prepping for nationals

The National Brain Bee will function much the same way as the Minnesota Brain Bee, with a Jeopardy-style format, however a new text and new topics will be added.

The new text students will use is titled “British Neuroscience Association’s publication - Neuroscience: the Science of the Brain.”

In addition to the new information included in the text, the National Brain Bee will also incorporate new rounds into the competition including neuroanatomy, patient diagnosis, laboratory practical with real human brains, neurohistology with microscope and brain imaging identification.

Domroese said she has been preparing for nationals through study sessions with a neuroscience professor at the University of Minnesota.

“She actually shows me real human brains,” she said, “which is really helpful.”

If Domroese should win at the National Brain Bee, not only will she receive additional cash prizes, but she will advance to the International Brain Bee.

The prizes awarded during the International Brain Bee include scholarships, travel awards, trophies and research assignments.

Additionally, students are competing for a research fellowship with an acclaimed neuroscientist.

The 2013 International Brain Bee was held in Vienna, Austria.

“I can’t wait for the competition,” Domroese said.

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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