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Students Compete in Geography Bee

May 22, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Youngsters from across America and beyond are bringing their worldly knowledge to bear in pursuit of geographic glory _ and a hefty college scholarship.

From Colorado to Connecticut, from North Dakota to Naples, Italy, students in grades four through eight began their battles of wits on Oct. 15, narrowing the field from 5 million participants down to the 55 competitors in the National Geographic Bee.

The final 10 in the competition sponsored by the National Geographic Society gathered Wednesday morning for a faceoff emceed by Alex Trebek, host of the TV quiz show ``Jeopardy.″

The top 10 this year are:

_Isaiah Hess, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Colorado Springs, Colo.

_Aaron Kiersh, 12, a sixth-grader at Bedford Middle School, Westport, Conn.

_Ryan Felix, 14, who attends eighth grade at the American High School in Naples, Italy. He represents Defense Department schools.

_Benjamin Detrixhe, 11, a fifth-grader at Clyde Elementary School, Clyde, Kan.

_Calvin McCarter, a 10-year-old homeschooler from Jenison, Mich.

_Nathaniel Mattison, 13, an eighth-grader at H.C. Crittenden Middle School in Armonk, N.Y.

_Alex Smith, 13, who attends eighth grade at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, N.C.

_John Rice, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Maddock, N.D.

_Matthew Russell, 14, an eighth-grader at Fretz Middle School in Bradford, Pa.

_Erik Miller, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Kent, Wash.

Last year Kyle Haddad-Fonda, 14, of Shoreline, Wash., triumphed by knowing that a region of melting and evaporation in the lower portion of a glacier is called the zone of ablation.

Haddad-Fonda, a student at The Evergreen School, a private school, won a $25,000 college scholarship. It was his third try; he also represented Washington in 1999 and 2000.

The top prize this year is again $25,000. Second and third place collect scholarships of $15,000 and $10,000.

It’s not unusual for state winners to repeat; indeed, 11 of the 55 competitors this year have made the trip before. North Dakota’s Rice was his state’s representative each of the last two years.

Though she didn’t make the final 10 this year, the national competition is a family tradition for Mallika Thampy of St. Louis. She also represented Missouri in 1999. Her brother Eapen represented Missouri in the finals in 1997 and 1998. Another brother, George, was second in the National Geographic Bee in 2000 and won the National Spelling Bee a week later.

Debbie Biehl of Saluda, S.C., also followed two brothers to the national finals. David represented South Carolina in 1998 and 1999, winning on his second try. His brother Thomas was the state representative in 2001.


Sample questions from the National Geographic Bee, some from previous competitions.

1. Which state has the greater area of federally owned land _ Pennsylvania or New Mexico?

2. What is the term for pollution created by the mixture of precipitation and chemicals released by the burning of fossil fuels?

3. The Union Jack appears on the flag of several countries due to previous rule by which country?

4. Ivory, Gold and Skeleton have all been the names of coasts of which continent?

5. What is the name of the fortress in Moscow built in the late 1400s that is used as the center of the Russian government?

6. Roquefort is the name of a kind of cheese that is aged in limestone caves not far from the town. Roquefort lies near the Pyrenees in what country?

7. In December 2000, Ethiopia signed a peace accord ending a two-year border war with which country that was originally carved out of Ethiopia’s territory?

8. Permanent sea ice connects part of Canada’s Ellesmere Island with what large island to the east?

9. The only glaciers in the tropics of Asia are in the mountains of Indonesia’s easternmost province. Those glaciers are on what island?

10. Until the mid-1970s East Timor was a colony of which European country? ___

The answers: 1. New Mexico. 2. Acid rain. 3. United Kingdom. 4. Africa. 5. Kremlin. 6. France. 7. Eritrea 8. Greenland. 9. New Guinea. 10. Portugal.

On the Net:

National Geographic Society: http://www.nationalgeographic.com

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