WASHINGTON (Aug.1, 2007)–Three of the country’s brightest geography students, who have excelled in the National Geographic Bee, will represent the United States at the eighth National Geographic World Championship from Aug. 5 to Aug.10 at SeaWorld San Diego. This year’s international contest, which includes teams from 17 regions, is organized by the National Geographic Society and sponsored by SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Adventure Parks.
The U.S. team members, all 15-year-old 10th-graders, are Kelsey Schilperoort of Prescott High School in Prescott, Ariz.; Matthew Vengalil of Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.; and Neeraj Sirdeshmukh of Nashua High School South in Nashua, N.H. To be eligible for the U.S team, students had to have finished in the top 10 of the National Geographic Bee in 2006 or 2007.
The United States, current world champion, will defend its title against teams from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chinese Taipei, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The contestants will answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography in two levels of competition.
On Sunday, Aug. 5, the students will arrive in San Diego. The teams will take a written test on Monday, Aug. 6, and explore some of the San Diego area; the following day they will battle each other in a challenging outdoor activity. On Wednesday, Aug. 8, they will visit Balboa Park and all of its attractions. The three teams with the highest scores from the written test and geography activity will meet at SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium for the championship finals on Thursday, Aug. 9. They will answer questions in a game-show format, moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the quiz show “Jeopardy!”
The National Geographic World Championship takes place every two years. The first contest, held in London in 1993, was won by the United States, which beat teams from the United Kingdom and Russia. The Australians, competing against four other teams, won the 1995 competition at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The third championship, held in 1997 in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested teams from eight other regions. The fourth competition, held in Toronto, in 1999, was won by the United States, which also won the 2001 contest in Vancouver, the 2003 contest at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Fla., and the 2005 contest in Budapest, Hungary.
“Promoting geography education is at the heart of the mission of the National Geographic Society,” said John Fahey, Society president and CEO. “The National Geographic World Championship provides a forum for top geography students from all corners of the globe to pit their wits against each other to determine which team is the international geography champion. Each student gains knowledge of the other competing regions’ cultures and becomes a better global citizen for the experience.”
“We are honored to play host to the 2007 National Geographic World Championship
at SeaWorld San Diego,” said Keith Kasen, president and chairman of the board of Busch Entertainment Corporation, parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. “Each year our parks welcome millions of guests from around the world. Those visitors experience up-close animal encounters that we hope inspire a lifelong appreciation for wildlife and the world we all share. This important geography competition brings much-deserved recognition to a diverse, extraordinary group of young people, while helping celebrate our shared world.”
The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 and the National Geographic World Championship in 1993 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States.
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.
SeaWorld Adventure Parks are in San Diego; Orlando, Fla.; and San Antonio. In addition to the SeaWorld Adventure Parks, St. Louis-based Busch Entertainment Corporation operates Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa Bay, Fla., and Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va.; Adventure Island in Tampa Bay; Water Country USA in Williamsburg; Sesame Place near Philadelphia; and Discovery Cove in Orlando. The nine parks entertain more than 20 million guests a year and employ more than 15,000 people. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park, is under construction in Orlando and is scheduled to open spring 2008.
Leaders in conservation and education, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove care for the largest animal collection in the world and offer an education Web site especially for students and teachers at www.seaworld.org. Information on the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund is at www.swbg-conservationfund.org. General park information is found at www.seaworld.com.
NOTE: Up-to-date information about the National Geographic World Championship will be posted in the National Geographic online press room at nationalgeographic.com/pressroom.
Photographs can be downloaded at FTP site:
User name: press
Electronic Press Kit of the National Geographic World Championship will be available:
Date:Thursday, Aug. 9
Time:16:30 ET to 16:45 ET
Satellite:Galaxy 26 (formerly IA6)
DL Frequency4040 B-Band