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Forester News

2020 Brain Bee in the news

Lake Forest College was recently featured in The Lake Forest Leader for hosting the 2020 Chicago Brain Bee on February 8. The successful competition drew more than 50 high school students to campus for the daylong event that involved dozens of Foresters.

LF College welcomes competitors in Brain Bee

Peter Kaspari, Editor | The Lake Forest Leader
February 11, 2020

The final moments of the Chicago-area Brain Bee on Saturday, Feb. 8, may have been the most intense in the four years the event has been held at Lake Forest College.

Monika Narain, 15, and Courtney Redey, 17, were locked in a dead heat for the chance to represent Chicago in the national Brain Bee tournament, which tests high school students on their knowledge of neuroscience and neurology.

Narain and Redey spent 16 turns going head to head against each other, either getting both their answers right or both their answers wrong.

Finally, on the 17th question, Redey got her answer wrong, while Narain got it right, making her the champion of the Chicago-area Brain Bee.

Narain, a student at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, couldn’t believe her victory.

“I took the first test (earlier in the day) and I was like, ‘There is no chance,’” she said.

But she literally used her neurological skills to push through and win.

“If you will, it was my norepinephrine and dopamine carrying me through,” she said with a smile. “But it was just a lot of nerves. I felt my heart beating out of my chest.”

Redey, a student at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, said it was intense on the stage, and she was nervous as the questions continued.

“We both obviously knew a lot and prepared a lot,” she said. “It was really nervewracking.”

While she was disappointed that she came so close and didn’t win, she said she was happy for Narain.

“She definitely deserved it,” Redey said of the winner. “I’m glad I participated. I had a lot of fun with it.”

The Chicago-area Brain Bee is an annual competition designed to test the knowledge of area high school students in the field of neuroscience. More than 50 students from 21 schools came to Lake Forest College on Feb. 8 to test their skills and see whose brain knew the most about brains.

Lake Forest College senior Danielle Berninzoni is one of the student coordinators of the event. She said it takes a long time to prepare for the Brain Bee.

“It’s months of planning, since probably April of last year,” she said. “We start building committees and line everything up from our end.”

Berninzoni added that neuroscience is an interesting field of study since it’s fairly new.

“It’s not as well-studied as chemistry, per se, or anything like that,” she said. “It’s kind of a new field.”

Fellow student coordinator Lauren Giurini agreed, and said all the participating high school students should be proud of all the knowledge they have on neuroscience.

“They’re going to go on to some really great schools. Ivy Leagues, I’m sure,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that they know just as much, if not more, as some of us neuroscience students that are four years older than them.”

Last year’s Chicago-area Brain Bee champion, Shouri Bochetty, returned to this year’s competition, not to test his skills, but to help out.

He said winning the Brain Bee last year opened up many opportunities for him.

“At the Brain Bee, after winning, we got to go to the national one,” he said. “In addition to the national one, they let you go to a neuroscience conference.”

While at that conference, Bochetty met a neuroscience researcher who was based in Chicago.

“That’s how I got in touch with a mentor,” he said.

Bochetty believes neuroscience is important, especially since it’s not a topic commonly taught in schools.

For the first- and second-place winners of this year’s Brain Bee, neuroscience is important as well.

“Neuroscience is probably the topic I’m most passionate about,” Narain said. “It’s just something that always makes me really happy to think about. I just think it’s so cool how we are in our brains, and being able to know more about it makes us better people. I really enjoy studying it.”

Redey, who will be starting college in the fall, wants to make it the focus of her career.

“There’s so many directions you can go with it, and it has so many applications in life,” she said. “I want to be a neurosurgeon so it can help me solve problems for people who have neuro-degenerative diseases and brain tumors.”