Children's Book Author
Around the World In Questions
by Cynthia Reeg
Since 1989 the National Geographic Society has sponsored a geography bee in the United States. Students in grades 4-8 from all 50 states, the U.S. territories, and the U.S. defense schools can participate. In order to make it to the state competition a student must first win her school geography bee and then take a qualifying written exam to place in the top 100 students from her state.
In 1993 and 1994 my son Matthew, a sixth/seventh grade student at the time, advanced to the Kansas state geography bees. In 1994 he won the state competition, and we had the opportunity to travel with him to Washington, D.C. where he participated in the National Geography Bee. It was extremely tough competition. He missed making it into the finalist round on the third question in a tiebreaking round between three other contestants.
When interviewed recently, Matthew provided some insights into what drew him to the geography bee. “I always liked atlases… Eventually I wanted to make a connection between the abstract colors and arbitrary lines and the real people who might live there. So I started reading about the places I saw in the atlases.” Matthew did this by using school and library books on states, countries, and people of the world.
I asked Matthew how he prepared for the state and national bees. “I looked at atlases and read up on less familiar topics like geology and meteorology, but I mostly practiced using old questions from the bee that my teachers … gave me.”
The National Geographic Bee provides college scholarships to the first three finalists for $25, 000, $15, 000, and $10,000. In addition to the possible scholarships, I asked Matthew why a student today should want to participate in the bee. He replied, “Because knowledge of geography is useful in so many different fields, and the study techniques learned from competing will be useful later.”
The National Geographic Society has a fun website you can visit to learn more about the bee. You can test your geography knowledge with five new questions each day by clicking on the GeoBee Quiz. The National Geography Bee finals take place in May of each year in Washington, D.C.
Do you know the name of the second longest
river in the world? It’s found
in South America. Or how about the name
of the animal found in Australia that
feeds on eucalyptus leaves? Or perhaps
you know the name of the mountains in
the United States where the Chinook winds
blows? If you’d like to learn more
about the world, the National Geography
Bee is a fun way to start. You’ll
be able to circle the world with questions.
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