Brainwar proves Horton students' mental mettle

Wendy Elliott
Published on March 3, 2014

Horton High School sent two teams to the first Brainwar competition recently. Members included Orion Leidl-Wilson, left, Liam Coleman-Aulenbach, Sarah Park, coach Tracy Webb, Meredith Murray, Scott Wesley and Ethan Roy.

©Wendy Elliott -

By Wendy Elliott

Can you tell the difference in sensation between sheep wool from Canada and Iceland? That was just one of the challenges local high school students faced recently in Brainwar.

Two groups of Horton High School students held their own recently in a brand new competition held at St. Mary’s University in Halifax.

The Grade 12 team –– including Meredith Murray, Liam Coleman-Aulenbach, Scott Wesley and Ethan Roy - made it to the finals on Feb. 27 and captured third place overall.

Coach Tracy Webb said the foursome also finished second in the building a musical instrument competition.

“We made bagpipes, seriously. The crowd fell out of their chairs in appreciative laughter,” she said.

In the first stage of the event, the Grade 12 Horton High School team captured top high school ranking. The two teams worked their way through 25 problem-solving stations – each with unique challenges. Murray, for example, had to look at a slide on a microscope and silently draw what she saw. Her teammates then had to identify the sketch.

Webb said they ranked third overall against a range of corporate teams of professional engineers and architects, along with university and other high school teams.

“The Grade 10 team were excellent problem solvers, too,” she added.

Webb only heard about Brainwar starting up just before the Christmas break.

“I registered a team even before I knew who would be on it, as there was a deadline a few days later,” she said.

The two teams came together late in January and met only a few times.

“I find it very intriguing that every member is a music student or was, in the case of one member.”

It was an asset as well that Murray has been studying art, but diversity was the key to success.

“That was what was so good about our team,” said Murray, who helped put 20 paintings in chronological order.

Roy liked the varied challenges, which ranged from building a castle in 30 minutes to odour recognition to identifying rhythms. There were stations over the six-hour event that focused on science knowledge, reasoning, special manipulation and information processing.

Webb and the members of both teams indicated they thoroughly enjoyed the Brainwar experience.

“Unlike coaching a sports team,” she said, “where one has an idea of the competition and the game, this event was a complete unknown, so needless to say, when they announced the winners, we were jumping with surprised excitement.”