Persistence has paid off for La Entrada eighth-grader Sam Falkenhagen. He won the middle school's National Geographic geography bee after coming in third place four years ago, then second place, and finally second place again last year. He now has a chance at a cash prize or college scholarship if he advances through the state and national bees.
Sam lost in the first round two years ago after a question threw him about hurricanes and tornados in Texas and Florida. But, he said, "I do my best to keep up on current events and I like geography so much that I knew I would keep trying to win."
Sam recently took a written test to qualify for the state competition. Students with the top 100 scores on that statewide written exam will then compete with each other April 4 in Sacramento. The national contest is set for May 20-21 in Washington D.C., where the winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship.
The eighth annual GeoBee at La Entrada was held December 14 with more than 100 students from grades 4 through 8. After several elimination rounds, the semi-finalists fielded more rounds of increasingly tougher questions on U.S. and world geography from moderator/Latin and core teacher Mike Dumbra.
Eventually, the top five finishers were chosen with Sam coming in first after answering this final question: A famous aqueduct outside of Nimes, France, was built about 2,000 years ago during the rule of which empire? (A: Roman Empire)
Sam said he doesn't really drill or study for this competition. "Travel, though, is a great way to prepare for the GeoBee," he added. "I've been to South America, England, Australia and this spring we're going to Vietnam."
The other winners, all of whom took home trophies were eighth-grader Tim Coleman, second place; eighth-grader Kevin Knox, third place; sixth-grader Mustafa (Stevan) Mustafa, fourth place; and fourth-grader India Krappe, fifth place.
To try the GeoBee yourself, go to nationalgeographic.com/geobee. Good luck!