ELDERSBURG — When fourth-grader Steven Parrish correctly named the capital of NewZealand during a casual question-and-answer session some time ago, resource teacher Jane Farver suspected he possessed geography know-how.
"Why would you know the capital of New Zealand?" said Farver, astonished. (It's Wellington, by the way.)
Steven, 8, showed off some more geographical knowledge Friday, correctly answering eight of 10 questions to win a National Geography Bee contest at Eldersburg Elementary School.
"I was nervous being up on the stage," the Woodbine resident said after his win. "I feel like I did a good job today."
Indeed. Steven, who showed no emotion during the hourlong contest, correctly answered questions about U.S. cities, continents, cultural geography, economics, location and orientation.
The questions given to the nine contestants can't be revealed because another Carroll school -- Manchester Elementary -- is participating in the bee and will follow a similar format, Farver said.
During a preliminary bee, students answered questions and puzzles like these: Death Valley is in what state in the United States? Name a continent located entirely within the southern hemisphere. What country leads the world in gold production?
Steven and the other eight contestants were the top scorers on a written examination to qualify for the bee. About 45 students belong to the school's geography club, which meets to discuss (what else?) continents, cities, states andcountries.
Farver, who serves as the club's adviser, said the students studied for the contest by playing geography games and holding similar bees. Many students, she said, receive reinforcement at home through games and computers.
"Students have been real resourceful," she said.
Students scored 10 points for each correct answer during the bee.
Tied for second place were fifth-grader Michael Powers, 10, and fourth-grader Geoffrey Nordling, 9, of Sykesville, who eachcorrectly answered seven questions.
Besides receiving a certificate and a round of applause from fourth- and fifth-graders who watchedthe contestants square off in the school auditorium, Steven reaped the praise of teachers and Assistant Principal Margaret Pfaff.
"I'mamazed at the level of performance," said Pfaff, who posed the questions during the bee. "An enormous amount of time and effort went intothis."
Immediately after his victory, Steven asked his teacher, Margo Burns, to telephone his parents and grandparents. Steven said hestudied the night before with his father's help.
"I'm real excited for him," Burns said. "This is something he really needs. He's realbright. I'm real pleased for him to have this kind of boost."
Thewin gives Steven a chance to compete statewide and nationally. He must pass a written exam to advance to a state competition in February.A national competition will be conducted May 20 and 21 in Washington, with students competing for a $25,000 scholarship.
This marks the fourth year Eldersburg has participated in the National Geography Bee, sponsored by National Geographic World, the geographic society's magazine for children, and Amtrak.
"I like geography," Steven said. "It's fun to learn about the world."
Some geography through map skills is integrated into the curriculum at every grade level, Pfaff said.
"(The club) goes beyond that," Farver said. "I think you have to have a real interest in geography to be involved."