WASHINGTON (May 10, 2010)—Fifty-four of the nation’s brightest young geography brainiacs will gather in Washington, D.C., on May 25 and 26 to take part in the 22nd annual National Geographic Bee. The fifth- to eighth-graders, ranging in age from 10 to 14, will be vying for three scholarships worth $50,000. Google is the sponsor of this year’s contest.
The Bee champion will win the top prize of a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. Second- and third-place finishers will be awarded college scholarships of $15,000 and $10,000. Additionally, the national winner will travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, to the Galápagos to experience geography firsthand through up-close encounters with the islands’ wildlife and landscape. Travel for the Galápagos trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Society.
The 54 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, Atlantic Territories, Pacific Territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools.
The preliminary round of the National Geographic Bee will take place on Tuesday, May 25. The top 10 finalists will each win $500 and advance to the final round on Wednesday, May 26, which will be moderated by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek. The final round will air nationally on May 26 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. Produced by National Geographic Television, the finals also will be broadcast later on public television stations, presented by Maryland Public Television. Check local listings for viewing dates and times.
Ten of the students taking part in this year’s National Geographic Bee are repeat state winners; two of the 10 are competing for the third time. Alexander Fager of Hawaii and Alexander Wade of Nevada represented their states at the 2008 and 2009 championships. Varun Wadhwa of Delaware, Pranav Bhandarkar of Georgia, Karthik Mouli of Idaho, Ian Markham of Indiana, Oliver Lucier of Rhode Island, Alex Kimn of South Dakota and Vansh Jain of Wisconsin were state winners in 2009. Mamadou Fadiga of Mississippi represented his state in 2008.
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 are on their school’s honor rolls; many have won math, science and spelling contests; a number play musical instruments; and most play a variety of sports.
Grandparents and teachers top the list of people the students admire (apart from their parents), followed by President Obama and former National Geographic Bee winners. While many of the kids said they are perfectly content being themselves, U.S. president, U.S. representative to the U.N. and Bill Gates head the list of other people they might choose to be.
John Fahey, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, said, “National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care about planet. Through the National Geographic Bee and everything else we do at the Society, we hope to foster a lifelong passion for learning about the wonders of the Earth and its diverse lands and cultures.”
Google Inc. is sponsoring the Bee for the second year. “After attending last year’s National Geographic Bee, I am more pleased than ever to be a part of such an inspiring event. As a company, Google is honored to be able to contribute to the efforts of such brilliant students and dedicated teachers,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of Engineering, Google Earth and Maps. A teacher from the Bee winner’s school district will be invited to attend this summer’s Geo Teachers’ Institute at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
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.
The 2009 National Geographic Bee champion was 13-year-old seventh-grader Eric Yang of Texas. The winning question was: Timis County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country? Answer: Romania.
National Geographic has developed “National Geographic GeoBee Challenge,” a mobile application for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, with which users will be able to test their geography smarts with questions from past Geographic Bee competitions. The application will be available on iTunes prior to this year’s final rounds.
About National Geographic
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 375 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,200 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
About the Google Geo Education Program
The Google Geo Education program is made up of a group of Googlers who are passionate about education and who believe that Google Earth and Maps are powerful educational tools. The program aims to make these tools more accessible to educators and to connect educators to each other so that they can share their experiences. The Google Geo Education group has created a Web site, www.google.com/educators/geo, where educators can find classroom activities in a variety of subjects and a discussion group where they can share information.
NOTE: Profiles of the 54 competitors can be found on National Geographic’s online press room at the ftp site: http://ftp.nationalgeographic.com/pressroom/bee_10/
(username: press | password: press)
The site will be updated on May 26 with the names and pictures of the Bee champion and the two runners-up as well as the winning question.