National Geographic Bee Gears Up for State Finals

National Geographic News
April 3, 2003

Which state has a panhandle—Wyoming or West Virginia?

If you don't know it's West Virginia, the odds are that you wouldn't have made it past the first round of the National Geographic Bee, an annual competition in which nearly 5 million grade-school students across America vie for the title of national champion.

The question was put to competitors in the opening round of the Bee, held in more than 15,000 schools between November 25 and January 15.

As many as 100 students in each of the states, Washington, D.C., Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Pacific territories, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, who won their school Bees and then earned a top score on a written exam prepared by the Society, will compete tomorrow to determine the state champions. Each state winner will receive U.S. $100 and a National Geographic globe, along with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington for the May 20-21 finals.

National Geographic News will post the names of the state-level geographic bee champions next week, once all the results have been collected and verified . Come back to our news page for the update.

The National Geographic Bee state-level competitions take place this year at a time when global events make it essential to have a sound understanding of our world and its geography, politics, cultures and religions. "Now, more than ever, with tensions in the Middle East that could have repercussions for the rest of the world, it is imperative that our young people be well-informed about their planet," said John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society.

The winner in each state will advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C., on May 20 and 21 to vie for the 2003 National Geographic Bee crown, first prize of a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. The second- and third-place winners in the national competition will receive $15,000 and $10,000 scholarships respectively. ING Americas, sponsor of the 2003 National Geographic Bee, will also present the national winner with a week's trip to one of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Adventure Camps.

Alex Trebek

"Jeopardy!" quiz show host Alex Trebek will moderate the national competition for the 15th year. The championship round of the National Geographic Bee will be held at National Geographic Society headquarters on May 21 and will air that day nationally on the National Geographic Channel. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the finals will be broadcast later on public television stations. Check local listings for viewing times.

Up to 20 countries will be sending their best and brightest young geography brains to Tampa, Florida, this summer to take part in the sixth National Geographic World Championship on July 15 and 16. The international contest will be hosted by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Each team will comprise three students who have excelled in their country's national geography competitions. The teams will meet to answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography in two levels of competition. Current world champions, the United States, will defend their title against returning teams from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, as well as up to eight new countries whose names will be announced once their national competitions have been completed.

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