WASHINGTON (May 9, 2005)–The Maryland winner plays the didgeridoo, oboe, clarinet and recorder. The Connecticut champ is a World War ll buff. The Pennsylvania victor volunteers at a hospital, and the winner from New York likes cooking and studying Chinese in his spare time. But no matter what they do for fun, the finalists in the 2005 National Geographic Bee have one serious 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 24 and 25 to take part in the 17th annual National Geographic Bee. The finals of the 2005 National Geographic Bee are sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. 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.
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 24. 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 final round on May 25 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 at nationalgeographic.com/pressroom.
The top 10 finalists will be eligible to be chosen for the three-member U.S team to take part in the 7th National Geographic World Championship, to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from July 10-15, 2005. More than 20 teams from around the globe will participate. Also eligible to be chosen for the U.S team are the 10 top finalists from last year’s National Geographic Bee.
Eleven students taking part in this year’s National Geographic Bee are repeat state winners, four of them competing for the third time. Benjamin Detrixhe of Kansas took part in the 2001 and 2002 championships, while Nathaniel Cornelius of Minnesota, Samuel Brandt of Oregon and Karan Takhar of Rhode Island took part in the 2003 and 2004 national competitions. Other students who are repeat state winners are William Moody, Alabama (2004); Sydney Rasch, Arkansas (2004); Krishnan Chandra, Massachusetts (2004); Jamie Ding, Michigan (2004); Ryan Ezelle, Mississippi (2004); Paige dePolo, Nevada (2004); and Ian Rockwell, Vermont (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 and spelling contests; a number have won scouting awards; most play a variety of sports; and many are members of choirs, orchestras and music bands.
Many named their teachers and grandparents as the people they most admire (other than their parents), while Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin also received several nods.
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 one.
“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 2004 National Geographic Bee champion was eighth-grader Andrew Wojtanik, from Overland Park, Kan. The winning question was: “Peshawar, a city in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, has had strategic importance for centuries because of its location near what historic pass?” Answer: Khyber Pass.
About National Geographic
The 117-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 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, log on to nationalgeographic.com; AOL KeyWord: NatGeo.
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. National Geographic Channel debuted to an initial 10 million homes in January 2001 and has been one of the fastest growing networks in the industry. It has carriage with all of the nation’s major cable and satellite television providers, making its currently available in more than 53 million homes. The Channel’s Web site is at nationalgeographic.com/channel.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.2 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and businesses, financial transaction processing, asset and wealth management, and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has its corporate headquarters in New York and its U.S. consumer and commercial banking headquarters in Chicago. Under the JPMorgan, Chase and Bank One brands, the firm serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients. Information about the firm is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.