WASHINGTON (May 7, 2004)—The New York winner grows tomatoes from around the world in his 32nd-floor apartment. The Missouri winner has completed the Junior Ranger Program at more than 20 U.S. national parks. The Virginia victor likes writing poetry, and the California champ enjoys cooking and baking. But no matter what they do for fun, the finalists in the 2004 National Geographic Bee have one goal in common — to be crowned No. 1 geography student in the country and to take home a $25,000 college scholarship.
The 55 contestants, fifth- to eighth-graders ranging in age from 10 to 15, will meet in Washington, D.C., on May 25 and 26 to take part in the 16th annual National Geographic Bee. Total prize money is $50,000. The winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship and lifetime membership to the National Geographic Society; the second- and third-place finishers will win $15,000 and $10,000 college scholarships. ING is the sponsor of the 2004 National Geographic Bee and will also present the first-place winner with a week’s trip to one of SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Adventure Camps.
The finalists, all winners of their state-level geographic bees, have triumphed over a field of nearly 5 million students to earn a place in the national championships. They represent the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Pacific Territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools.
The preliminary rounds of the National Geographic Bee will take place on May 25. The top 10 finalists will each win $500 and advance to the final round the following day, which will be moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the popular television quiz show “Jeopardy!”. The names and pictures of the ten finalists will be posted in the National Geographic online press room at nationalgeographic.com/pressroom.
The final round on May 26 will air nationally later that day on the National Geographic Channel. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the finals also will be broadcast at later dates on public television stations.
Check nationalgeographic.com/geographicbee or local listings for viewing times. The names and pictures of the top three winners will be posted in the National Geographic online press room.
Eleven students taking part in this year’s National Geographic Bee are repeat state winners. They are Eric Liaw, Hawaii (2003); Andrew Wojtanik, Kansas (2003); William Tamplin, Kentucky (2003); Nathaniel Cornelius, Minnesota (2003); Martin Hussey, New Mexico (2003); Christopher Chesny, Oklahoma (2003); Samuel Brandt, Oregon (2003), Karan Takhar, Rhode Island (2003); Derek Wells, Utah (2002); Bo Sun, Wisconsin (he represented Montana in 2003); and Doyle Evins, Wyoming (2003).
A survey of this year’s state and territory Bee winners shows that they have numerous talents in addition to their prodigious geography knowledge. Many have won math, science, writing and spelling contests, most play a variety of sports, and many are members of choirs, orchestras and music bands.
The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. And the problem is not yet resolved: A nine-country National Geographic-Roper Geographic Literacy Survey conducted in 2002 showed that Americans aged 18 to 24 scored lower than their counterparts in the other countries surveyed, except Mexico. Eleven percent of the Americans surveyed could not locate the United States on a world map; fewer than half could find France, the United Kingdom and Japan.
“For young people to be responsible and informed leaders of tomorrow, it is imperative that they have a sound understanding of our planet,” said National Geographic Society President John Fahey. “National Geographic has always recognized the need for geographic literacy and will vigorously continue its efforts to educate our young people and foster global knowledge.”
The 2003 National Geographic Bee champion was eighth-grader James Williams from Vancouver, Wash. He correctly answered the winning question: “Goa, a state in southwestern India, was a possession of which country until 1961?” Answer: Portugal.
About National Geographic
The 116-year-old National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. It reaches more than 250 million people each month through its five magazines, the National Geographic Channel, books, films, videos, maps and interactive media. The Society has funded more than 7,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.
Based at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel is a joint venture between National Geographic Television & Film and Fox Cable Networks Group. It is currently available to 46 million homes.
In the U.S., ING [www.ing.com/us] offers a comprehensive array of products and services, including mutual funds; fixed and variable annuities; retirement programs; financial planning; employee benefits; trust services and life insurance, through a variety of distribution channels. The ING family of companies in the U.S. are part of Amsterdam-based ING Groep N.V., one of the largest integrated financial services organizations in the world.
ING is not affiliated with the National Geographic Society.