Competition Format

Round I

Round I of the Iowa Brain Bee consists of 50 multiple-choice neuroscience questions, ranging in topics from the chemical makeup of neurotransmitters to complex cognitive processes. Questions are projected on a screen and read aloud. All participants answer the same question at same time using clickers, which allows for immediate scoring without making answers public (so nobody but the student will know whether she or he got the answer wrong). Teachers, parents, and chaperones are welcome to sit in the audience and observe.

Round II

Students placing in the top 10 during Round I go on to Round II, which occurs immediately after Round I. In Round II, students are asked short-answer questions and given 30 seconds to answer by writing their response on a whiteboard. Responses are evaluated by neuroscientist judges. After 5 wrong answers, a participant is out of the competition. The last one “standing” wins! 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers win prizes.

The winner of the Iowa Brain Bee will be invited to participate in the U.S. Brain Bee Championship. To represent the Iowa Brain Bee at nationals, the individual must live in the state of Iowa, be between the ages of 13 and 19 on the day of the U.S. Brain Bee Championship, and be enrolled in the grades 9 - 12 in school. Individuals who do not fulfill these criteria are not eligible to represent Iowa at the national championships, but are still welcome to participate in the Iowa Brain Bee and related activities for fun. If the winner is not eligible to represent Iowa at nationals, the next finisher will be invited, and so on until an eligible person is identified.

No student is allowed to participate in more than one local Brain Bee each school year.

Prizes

Prizes

Because there is no travel required for the U.S. Bee this year, we are able to allocate prize money to our First, Second, and Third place finishers.

If interested, the first place winner can be assigned a neuroscience graduate student tutor, who will help the student prepare for the U.S. Brain Bee Championship. 

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History

The Iowa Brain Bee, then called the "Eastern Iowa Brain Bee", was started in 2000 by  Dr. Bob Fellows, head of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa. Shortly after, the University of Iowa Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience took over leading the Brain Bee, with Dr. Gloria Lee, a cellular/molecular neuroscientist, serving as the faculty advisor and chair of the Brain Bee committee for many years.  Dr. Karin Hoth, a member of the behavioral neuroscience faculty, is the current chair and faculty advisor to the Iowa Brain Bee committee, which is comprised of neuroscience graduate students invested in sharing their knowledge of neuroscience with others.

Previous Winners

2021

Cancelled due to COVID-19

2020

Emad Ul Haque

Pleasant Valley High School

Bettendorf, IA

2019

Sujay Marisetty

Pleasant Valley High School

Bettendorf, IA

2018

Joyce Li

John F. Kennedy High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2017

Margaret Wright

Washington High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2016

Jasmine Li

John F. Kennedy High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2015

Alicia Hayes-Kerr

John F. Kennedy High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2014

Anjali Misra

Washington High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2013

Thanh Lai

Hoover High School & Central Academy Magnet School

Des Moines, IA

2012

Ruchira Laroia

West High School

Iowa City, IA

2010

Shairaz Sidha

John F. Kennedy High School

Cedar Rapids, IA

2002

D.J. Kreder

West High School

Iowa City, IA

2001

Craig Kilburg

Dubuque Hempstead High School

Dubuque, IA

2000

Joe Seo

West High School

Iowa City, IA