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More than 50 Palm Beach County students in grades 9-12 registered to experience a ‘different kind of brainstorm’  this past Saturday, Feb. 4 , at the inaugural Max Planck Florida Institute Brain Bee Challenge. Similar to a spelling bee in format, the oral competition was designed to test students’ knowledge of neuroscience through a series of questions on topics such as memory, intelligence, stress, emotions and brain disorders. The event, which was organized by the Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI) and co-funded by the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund and the Quantum Foundation, was held at the FAU Lifelong Learning Center’s Maltz Auditorium in Jupiter.

As the first-place finisher, Ilya Katz, an 11th-grader at Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach, will be moving on to the National Brain Bee Competition in Baltimore, MD on March 4-5 in advance of National Brain Awareness Week, which takes place March 11-17. Travel expenses and lodging for Katz and a chaperone will be funded by MPFI, the Pew Public Education Fund and the Quantum Foundation.

Anastasia Colas, a 10th-grader at Royal Palm Beach High School made a strong showing in second place, while Anugya Sood, a 10th-grader, also from Suncoast Community High School, was the third-place winner. The top three winners were each awarded cash prizes ranging from $200 to $400.

“The students really enjoyed the inaugural Brain Bee Challenge. In fact, many of them told us they were going to start studying in order to mount a triumphant comeback next year,” said Dr. Ana Fiallos, MPFI’s Head of Education Outreach. “Events like this one really foster interest in the sciences, and we are planning on introducing other similar programs and initiatives in the future.”

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