Plainview-Old Bethpage student earns top spot in science competition
The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell was abuzz with young scholars on Feb. 3, 2018, for the second annual Long Island Brain Bee, a regional high school science competition. Competitors included 35 students, ages 14-18, from high schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
For the second year in a row, first place was claimed by Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School. “I’ve always liked science, and the Brain Bee inspired me to focus on the area of neuroscience and learn more about it,” said winner, Jessica Goldstein, a junior at Plainview-Old Bethpage who has earned a trip to compete at the 11th USA Regional Brain Bee Championship in March. “It has been an incredible experience, and I’m looking forward to the national contest.”
Second and third place awards were secured by returning competitors Amy De Lury, Sachem North High School, and Ankita Katukota, Comsewogue High School, both juniors. “This competition is so much fun and interesting, I learn a lot during my time here,” said De Lury.
The first leg of a nationwide competition, the Long Island Brain Bee is one of many local one-day contests that take place in communities throughout the U.S. In New York, it includes Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. The top finishers from these competitions advance to the national Brain Bee held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and vie for a chance to match wits on a worldwide stage at the International Brain Bee Championship. The goal of the entire competition is to expose young scholars to the study of the brain and motivate early career interest in the fields of neuroscience research and clinical sciences.
“The Brain Bee is such a great way to capture the interest and enthusiasm of students in science when they are most curious,” said Zeinab Nassrallah, PhD, assistant professor of science education at Zucker School of Medicine and Brain Bee co-coordinator with Jessica Santangelo, PhD, assistant professor of biology at Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“It is so important to help engage and foster an interest in science at an early age,” said Dr. Santangelo, “the students here are so excited to participate and eager to learn.”
The Long Island Brain Bee consists of three rounds of competition—a multiple-choice exam on brain facts, a laboratory demonstration, and a test to identify anatomical functions and structures in real human brain specimens. Contestants also participate in a charades-style round in which they identify brain disorders, treatments, and diagnostic tools based on skits performed by School of Medicine students. Preparation for the Brain Bee requires study of Brain Facts, a primer on the brain and nervous system published by the Society for Neuroscience.
In addition to testing at the Brain Bee, students learned about the importance of scientific discovery to advance understanding of the brain and the treatment of neurological disorders in a talk given by Zucker associate professor of neurology and science education, Joel N.H. Stern, PhD, who is co-director of the autoimmune brain disorder research program at Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Participants also had lunch with current researchers who presented scientific posters detailing their neuroscience investigations.
“The ability to show students how the brain works, how it interacts [with the body], as well as the problems that can occur and how it can be fixed surgically has been very rewarding,” said Steven J. Schneider, MD, Zucker assistant professor of neurosurgery and co-chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center who facilitated the lab demo. “I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Special thanks to Maya Frankfurt, PhD, Zucker professor of science education and Brain Bee judge, as well as undergraduate/ graduate students and neuropsychology residents from Northwell Health’s for assisting with competition activities.
For more information about the Long Island Brain Bee and the Zucker School of Medicine, visit online at medicine.hofstra.edu.