A high school student from Guelph, Ont., is headed to an international neuroscience competition after winning the seventh annual Canadian National Brain Bee over the weekend.

Beatrix Wang, a grade 11 student at John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph, Ont., beat out the 12 other high school students from across the country who were participating in the intense competition at McMaster University.

The competition, which tested the participants’ knowledge of the brain, included multiple-choice questions, oral questions with one word answers, a human neuroanatomy “bell-ringer,” and a patient diagnosis test. 

The national competition intended to motivate students to pursue careers in neuroscience, is open to Canadian high school students in grades nine through 12, and is sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In addition to winning a trophy, an internship at a Canadian neuroscience lab, and a $1,500 cash prize, Wang is also invited to compete in the International Brain Bee competition in Washington, D.C. in early August.

Wang said she has always had an interest in the brain, but was only introduced to neuroscience and the Brain Bee competition last year by one of her teachers.

“Probably neuroscience is the coolest of biological sciences, for me personally,” she told CTV’s Canada AM. 

Wang said her favourite part of the competition was the neuroanatomy test, in which students had to identify different parts of the brain.

“Basically we had a bunch of stations, and at each station we had a slice of a brain and we had pins stuck in different structures, and we had to basically write down what the structures were and what they did,” she said. 

Another part of the competition tested the students’ ability to properly diagnose patients with either Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, addiction, depression, stroke, autism, and so on.

“They were medical actors and they do that for a living,” Wang said. “They simulated the disorders, it was really cool.”

The International Brain Bee was founded by Dr. Norbert Myslinski at the University of Maryland in 1998, and has now grown to approximately 150 chapters in more than 30 countries.