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Way to Go! Melissa Cao of Bethpage

Melissa Cao, a senior at Bethpage High School,

Melissa Cao, a senior at Bethpage High School, will compete in the national Brain Bee in Baltimore. Credit: Bethpage School District

A Bethpage High School senior won the top spot in this year’s New York City Regional Brain Bee and advanced to the national level in the written competition that tests high school students’ knowledge of neuroscience.

Melissa Cao, 17, competed against 65 participants from Long Island, Westchester County and the city’s five boroughs.

She received a plaque, $500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national contest in Baltimore on March 18-20. The winner there will go on to represent the United States at the international level.

Last year, Cao took second place in the regional competition.

“This year, I studied more to see if I could beat myself,” Cao said. “It’s significant to me, because I had put in the work. And it paid off.”

To prepare, participants studied two books: the Society for Neuroscience’s “Brain Facts” and “Neuroscience: Science of the Brain” from the British Neuroscience Association and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain. Cao’s winning question asked her to “name two of the four touch receptors,” she said.

Cao is president of her school’s Student Civic Association and a member of the robotics team, the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. She also tutors at the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club and played violin in the All-National Symphony Orchestra in Nashville.

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