Dedicated CV Students Participate in Brain Bee Neurology Competition

Brain Bee Neurology Competition
Posted on 02/21/2018
Harshita Gupta
Staff Editor

Cumberland Valley High School students participated in and excelled at the regional Brain Bee competition at Hershey Hospital February 10th, 2018. The experience was not only deeply educational and challenging, but a unique privilege for those who are interested in neuroscience or the medical field. CV Students Nikita Marathe and Harshita Gupta achieved second and third place, respectively.

“I think that studying for and participating in the Brain Bee was a really enriching learning opportunity for me; this is my third year doing it and I’ve seen my rank improve every year. I want to be a doctor someday and I really enjoyed the opportunity to look at specimens and
learn about this really interesting field,” Nikita Marathe said.

The Brain Bee is an annual regional competition held at Hershey Hospital and conducted by Doctors Thyagarajan Subramanian and Kala Venkiteswaran, open to all high schoolers in the area. It consists of a written examination, a lab examination with real brain and spine specimens,
and a “charades” round for the top ten contestants. The “charades” round involves watching medical students act out doctor patient interactions and then diagnosing and treating the disease being acted.

“Wanting to be a doctor one day, my favorite part is definitely the charades round. Not only does it indicate you made it to the top ten, but it allows you to really exercise and apply what you’ve read about all of these neurological diseases. It’s a very unique competition; I don’t think many other academic contests involve a charades round or allow students to learn from real brains and spines,” Marathe said.

Before the examinations begin, students actually get to learn about the brain and its functions from a variety of medical students. Although independent studying is definitely required before the competition, students get the chance to learn in the lab before testing their own knowledge. During lunch, students can also talk to dozens of available medical students and experts about such topics as college, medical school, science, or the medical field, who are there  to provide advice and answers. The Brain Bee is not just about testing students’ knowledge, but
also allowing them access to resources and opportunities in the hospital.

The top five ranking competitors at the Brain Bee get to attend a summer internship at Hershey Hospital, usually in the lab where Doctors Venkiteswaran and Subramanian do their research; there they will spend eight weeks learning and getting the chance to do their own
research project or experiment, and maybe even being published.

“I learned about brain anatomy functions and how the brain works much more in depth than what I had learned in school with AP biology or Anatomy/Physiology from both studying and attending the competition,” junior Varshini Ramanathan said. “I did the competition because
I wanted to do an activity over the summer and I knew there was an internship offered in a neurology lab for those who qualified.”

Turnout for the Brain Bee varies year after year but new students are always encouraged to sign up, even if it’s just for fun. The Brain Primer textbook from which the majority of the questions are derived is available online and registration is during late January and early

“Our turnout is usually around 25-50 students every year; I would certainly be willing to come to Cumberland Valley High School someday to speak to the students about the competition or neurology in general,” Venkiteswaran said.

“Other people should do this because it’s a fun, educational competition where you learn so much and can take a variety of test to test your knowledge. Not only is it a fun day, but it’s very informative; you get to speak with medical students and experts about the field and have a
chance to win an internship,” Ramanathan said.
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