A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 4 May 2018

North Birmingham Academy was absolutely brimming with pride earlier this term, as Year 12 student Emmanuela beat off stiff competition to win the National Brain Bee.

Brain Bee is an international competition which promotes neuroscience in schools all over the world, aiming to inspire the next generation of top scientists and doctors. Students aged 14-19 study complex neurological terms and processes and learn about conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They are then put to the test with quick fire questions at local competitions, with winners going on to compete at the national event.

As the national winner, Emmanuela has not only secured herself an internship at a top London university neurology lab but will also jet off to Berlin in July to compete internationally. We caught up with the talented Emmanuela and her teacher (and number one fan) Miss Keloglou to find out more.

A fantastic opportunity

Passionate about science and keen to pursue a career in medicine, Emmanuela approached her form tutor Miss Keloglou at the beginning of the academic year, wanting to know how she could expand her knowledge and gain experience in the field.

“When Miss Keloglou told me about Brain Bee, I was excited because it sounded like a fantastic opportunity. I love science and am interested in medicine so I knew it would be a great experience.”Emmanuela, Year 12 at NBA

To prepare for the competition Emmanuela studied independently, brushing up on all things neurological with the help of two textbooks. She then travelled down to University College London with Miss Keloglou and some of her classmates to compete in the local competition, where she wowed a live judging panel of neuroscientists with the depth of her knowledge. Her fantastic performance saw her place in the top ten on the day and qualify for entry into the national competition.

University level knowledge

At the National Brain Bee, held at Nottingham Girls’ High School, Emmanuela’s neurological knowledge was again tested with a written exam, neuroanatomy quiz and a patient diagnosis challenge. As one of the top five students, she was then entered into a quick-fire round, answering complex questions on emotions, sleep, intelligence and a variety of neurological disorders. According to Miss Keloglou, winning this challenging round was no mean feat.

“I know how hard-working Emmanuela is and I know that she is a very intelligent student. But the level at which she has had to study for Brain Bee is far beyond anything we’ve done at GCSE or A level. What she has been studying is so advanced, it’s university level.”Miss Keloglou, science teacher at NBA

For Emmanuela, the opportunity to learn something new has been an enjoyable challenge.

“I’ve loved having the opportunity to study topics outside of the curriculum. The content has been so interesting and the whole experience has really helped me to develop an interest in neuroscience.”

Winning in her second language

Emmanuela’s amazing achievement is all the more impressive given that English is not her first language. Moving to the UK from Italy in 2016, Emmanuela has been studying at NBA since the start of Year 11.

“Since I started here, students and teachers have made me feel really welcome and I’ve made lots of friends. Miss Keloglou in particular has been so supportive and helpful.”

“She’s far too modest to say but Emmanuela has achieved so much. To win the local and national Brain Bee competitions, and to be on her way to the international competition, are huge achievements in themselves. To have done all of that without English being her first language is an even bigger achievement.”

We’re so impressed by Emmanuela’s story and we can’t wait to hear about the next part of her exciting journey.

Well done Emmanuela, and best of luck in Berlin!