Local students had their geography skills tested in a fun way recently. Following a preliminary geography bee in which all 6th-8th grade Sparta Middle School students participated, a top ten was established, and they competed for the title of school champion in the school-level competition of the National Geographic GeoBee on Jan. 24, 2020.
This year the top ten students were; Ian Bellush, Nate Rogoff, Vaiden Pollard, Luke Johnston, Tyler Harms, Charlie Canzoniero, Charlie Diamond, Mathew Vassalo, Ben Dykstra and Christian Layman.
After several rounds of questions, Ian Bellush won first place, Mathew Vassalo won second place, and Vaiden Pollard finished third. The school competition is the first round in the annual National Geographic GeoBee, a geography competition designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. Questions cover not only geography, but also ancient and world civilizations, cultures, and physical features.
The National Geographic Society developed the GeoBee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among youth in the United States. Over the course of three decades, 120 million students have learned about the world through participation in the GeoBee.
School champions, including Ian Bellush, will take an online qualifying test; up to 100 of the top test scorers in each state then become eligible to compete in their State GeoBee. The winners of the State GeoBees receive an all-expense-paid trip to participate in the GeoBee national championship in Spring 2020.
Students will compete for cash prizes, scholarships and an all-expense-paid Lindblad expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour ll.
In addition to the GeoBee, National Geographic offers classroom resources, student experiences and professional development opportunities for educators.
Each year at Sparta Middle School, teacher Cherie Shefferman organizes the bee, Principal Mike Gregory and Assistant Principals Brad Davis and Frank Ciaburri help as judges, and 8th grade social studies teacher Bob Gilmartin serves as host.
The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education.
For more information, visit www. nationalgeographic.org.