SPOILER ALERT! Last Wednesday here at the National Geographic Society headquarters, I joined the staff on a long lunch break to watch the final rounds of the 2011 Geographic Bee national championship. In the cafeteria we cheered on our favorites (I picked Stephan Petrovic of Kansas, who finished third), gritted our teeth when they stalled or missed a question, and laughed at our own inferior stores of geographical knowledge–no one at my table could answer questions after the fifth round.
We were charmed by the cute antics and showmanship of the young finalists. They sat twisting and nervous, smiling and beaming. Alex Trebek (best know as the host of Jeopardy, he volunteers every year to host the Bee) was charmed as well, especially by a boy whom he named “Mr. Congeniality” of the competition, a middle-school student from Arizona, Luke Hellum. Like the other contestants, Luke is a well-rounded kid; you can tell that he does other things besides study atlases. You can see him here on his YouTube channel, doing a video lab report on an egg drop experiment. The cutest part starts around 3:50 mins.
For more on the experience of competing in the Bee, read this excellent article by Andrew Evans at the Intelligent Travel blog. Evans participated in the Bee when he was a kid, and reflects on how it impacted his life.
If you want to see how you measure up to the contestants, check out an article on the preliminary round, or play some of the online GeoBee games:
You can watch the Geo Bee on the National Geographic Channel starting June 13 at 6:30 p.m. EST.
Cedar for My Wonderful World