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Fourth Annual Southern Maryland Brain Bee Winner from Leonardtown High School

Correctly Diagnosed Mock Patients and Identified Parts of Actual Human Brains
March 2, 2010
Press Release #10-051

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The Fourth Annual Southern Maryland Brain Bee was held at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) this past weekend.  The Brain Bee is a one-day neuroscience-oriented academic competition for St. Mary's County high school students.  Students answered questions to test their knowledge about the nervous system and were asked to identify parts of the human brain using actual human brains.  Leonardtown High School student Aparna Sajja won first place in the individual round, and along with her "Pinky and the Brains" team members Torrey Ferguson and Christina Fahmi, also placed first in the group competition.  Sajja came in second in last year's individual competition.  She is now eligible to attend the U.S. National Brain Bee in Baltimore March 19-20.  

Winners in the individual round also included Paul Boyenga, second place, from James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center, and Claire Weber, third place, from Great Mills High School.  "The Brain Bangers" came in second place in the group rounds, consisting of Bobby Braun, Will Holland, and Kaitlyn Kistler, from Great Mills High School.  Third place group winner was "The Knowledgeable Neurons," consisting of Katrina Bennett, Trey Bergen, and Paul Boyenga, from Leonardtown High School.
 
The local Brain Bee is planned, coordinated, and executed by volunteer SMCM students in the neuroscience cross-disciplinary minor program and in the Women in Science House (WiSH).  This year's sponsors included the college's neuroscience program, Office of Admissions, Department of Chemistry, Department of Psychology, Papa John's Pizza, Wal-Mart, Giant Food, and the company Personalized Therapy, LLC.

"It's impressive to see high school students answering questions about material I didn't learn until college," said Jordan Gaines '11, a biology major and neuroscience minor at SMCM. "The future of neuroscience is looking bright! I hope to see many of these students at St. Mary's in the coming years taking advantage of our neurosciences program."  This is Gains' second year helping with the Brain Bee program.

"We are thrilled with this weekend's turnout at the Brain Bee," said  Dr. Anne Marie Brady, assistant professor of psychology and faculty coordinator of the event.   "The competition just keeps growing each year, and we really appreciate the enthusiasm and effort put forth by all of the participants."

The students were provided with study materials (a 74-page book with illustrations, also available as a CD or free download) about the brain and nervous system in advance.  They competed in several rounds of question-and-answer, neuro-anatomy identification, and mock patient diagnoses.  This year, there were 48 students registered to compete.  These students were from five high schools: Leonardtown, St. Mary's Ryken, Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center, Chopticon, and Great Mills. 

"The International Brain Bee motivates our youth to learn more about the brain," said founder Dr. Norbert Myslinski.  "We need their energy and their passion to help find cures for autism, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other brain disorders."

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities, and an SAT average for student admissions of 1848. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.

PHOTO CREDIT: JAMES PARCELL

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