Students master world of knowledge to compete in geography bee

January 08, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

How do you study for a test when the potential list of questions is as big as the world?

For fourth- through eighth-grade students around the country who are participating in their local schools' geography bees, studying can mean anything from reading books about foreign lands to scanning globes and maps and wandering wherever their eyes might take them.

They watch "Jeopardy," use study card sets such as Brain Quest and play the computer game "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?"

"If it's a map or something like that, I usually go to the states or countries that I know least about, and study them," said Andie Wyatt, 10, who won the bee at Carrolltowne Elementary School in Eldersburg.

"When I get my allowance, I go out and buy maps and tools I can use to study," said Gene Healey, 10, who won the bee at Piney Ridge Elementary School.

Several other elementary and middle schools will conduct bees in preparation for the statewide bee April 7 and the nationwide bee May 31 in Washington, sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

To qualify for the state bee, students must do more than win the contest in their schools. Andie, Gene and others who win at the school level also must take a written test.

"I think I'll do pretty well on it," Gene, son of Linda and Arthur Healy, said of the written test he will take this week.

He and Andie, daughter of Nora and Duane Wyatt, each got nine out of 10 questions right last week on the geography bee, making them the top scorers.

The questions can be about culture, economics, ecology, current events and even sports.

Leslie Dragan, a fourth-grader at Carrolltowne Elementary, was caught off guard when asked what type of wrestling was a popular sport in Japan. She knew that it was sumo wrestling, but she had not expected the question.

Meanwhile, fifth-grader Brian Haines sat next to her wishing he had been asked that question instead of one he missed. He was asked which city, Mecca or Warsaw, is the birthplace of the founder of Islam. He incorrectly guessed Warsaw.

Jane Farver, the extended enrichment teacher who coordinated the bees at Carrolltowne and Piney Ridge, said the contest BTC challenges children to integrate knowledge in a lot of subject areas, not just memorize places on maps.

"One benefit is they're keeping up on current events not only in the United States but all over the world," she said.

The question Gene missed was:"The fragile ecology of which continent is dependent on krills, tiny shrimp-like creatures that thrive in cold waters around land masses?"

He said Asia, but the answer was Antarctica.

Andie missed a question asking the geographical term for a country such as Italy, which is mostly bordered by water. She said "coastal," but the answer was "peninsula."

The first round of questions was easiest, because students could pick one of two options, such as in the Mecca-Warsaw question. But later rounds required students to supply the answer.

Carrolltowne Principal Nancy Chapin forgot to explain the change in rules until after she read the first question, but before fourth-grader Andrew Gearhart had a chance to answer which country has the beaver and the maple leaf among its national symbols.

She stopped him before he could say anything.

"But I know the answer!" Andrew insisted. She laughed and told him to hold on for a minute while she explained the procedure.

Then he answered Canada, which was correct.

Carroll students have done well in the state bee, which will be televised by Maryland Public Television.

Matthew Coyle of Mount Airy was the state winner last year, his second time competing at the state level. In May, he became the youngest student to reach the final round in the national bee. He is a sixth-grader at Mount Airy Middle School and son of Richard J. and Melissa Coyle.

Matthew is eligible to compete again. The contest is open to students up to eighth grade.

Another Mount Airy boy, Patrick Jacobs, won the state bee in 1992, when he was a student at the McDonogh School in Randallstown.

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