Janson Kappen, a Grade 10 student at Calgary’s Westmount Charter School, dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. He is fascinated by the brain; his favourite fact about the human brain is that it contains nearly 100 billion neurons, the same number of stars in our galaxy – now he has become the 2015 Canadian National Brain Bee Champion!.
On March 7, Kappen had the opportunity to put his neuroscience knowledge to the test at the 8th annual Calgary Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition for students in Grade 9-12 hosted by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) and organized by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute Trainee Organization (HBITO), an organization that seeks to inspire curiosity about brain research and encourage the study of neuroscience through various community outreach initiatives.
Cheered on by his family and classmates, Kappen made it through a preliminary round, as well as 10 rounds of oral questions and two written tiebreaker rounds of questions before being named champion.
Kappen was one of 28 students from Calgary and the surrounding area participating in this year’s competition. Contestants were asked questions about a wide range of neuroscience-related topics including: neuroanatomy, brain chemistry, neurological disorders, brain development, and the history of neuroscience.
On May 30th he participated in the 2015 CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee Eighth Annual Competition, at McMaster University.
The competition was fierce; fifteen incredibly bright students excelled at every test. The morning challenge included the neuroanatomy bell-ringer (2 minutes at each of 20 brain sections) and patient diagnosis (4 minutes with each of 10 patients). The afternoon was intense, with 50 rapid-fire multiple-choice questions, 15 high-challenge questions, and 25 short-answer questions. The top 2 competitors then battled for first place over 40 challenging oral questions and answers.
Competitors came from coast to coast: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, London, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Newfoundland. These are the top students in their region – champions who have already won their local brain bee competitions. It was a pleasure to get to know all the students and their families. They met this weekend to engage in these challenging events, testing their knowledge of neuroscience and their skills at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy. They are well on their way to becoming the next generation of neuro scientists!
Our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners received trophies and cash prizes ($1500 for first place; $1000 second place; $500 third place). Our 2015 champion, Janson Kappen, takes home a beautiful ever-rolling trophy to display at his high school for one year, and he will be given the opportunity to work in a neuroscience laboratory.
The challenge is not over for Janson! He receives a trip for two to Cairns, Australia, in August, to represent Canada at the International Brain Bee (IBB). The 2015 International Brain Bee will be held from 20th August to 26th at Cairns, Australia – at the joint meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS), the International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) and the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry (APSN).
Janson with his Malayalee parents – Mrs & Mr. Cyriac Kappen
Let us wish and pray for him to be the 2015 International Brain Bee Champion!
Report by: Gayathri Devi