Winfield, Mount Airy students cultivate geography skills for chance to compete in national bee


January 26, 1996|By Christy Kruhm | Christy Kruhm,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

STUDENTS IN our schools are taking a new interest in geography this year. They are joining geography clubs, and a few are taking their interest a step further -- competing in and winning geography bees held recently at their schools.

For the eighth year, students in grades four through eight have the opportunity to compete in the National Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The students must first qualify at the school level, then pass the written state exam, before having a chance to compete nationally for the first prize, a $25,000 college scholarship.

Katie Bray, a fifth-grader at Winfield Elementary, moved one step closer to the national competition, placing first in her school's geography bee this week.

Katie won by answering a difficult question. Katie gave the winning answer, "France" when asked what European country resumed nuclear testing at sites it controlled in Polynesia, thereby leading to protest demonstrations in Tahiti in September.

Katie and 20 other fourth- and fifth-graders at Winfield Elementary are members of the school's geography club. Led by a group of parent volunteers, the students meet for 90 minutes each week after school. At each session, club members are introduced to a specific lesson, such as map skills, geographical planning or U.S. geography. The parent leaders spend the remaining time with the students reinforcing the new skill with an activity or game.

One of the activities the students were asked to participate in planning for a two-day snow disaster. Not only did the students have to plan for their personal safety and that of their family, but they had to research their town's emergency procedures and make plans for alternate sources of heat and water.

When the blizzard hit our area soon after, the students had a greater appreciation of the emergency measures that were put into action.

A group of 15 parents met through the summer to design the club's format, using geography standards set by the National Geographic Society. They designed 12 programs, submitted them to the fifth-grade teaching team at the school and opened the club to any fourth- or fifth-grade student.

The push behind forming a geography club was not to prepare students for the geography bee, said Jan Treworgy, a parent volunteer.

"The club was not a way to get the kids primed for the bee," Ms. Treworgy said. "It's a way to get parents involved with their kids, learning right along with them."

She explained that another reason for the creation of the club was a real concern among parents that the children were not meeting the standards established by the National Geographic Society.

Students at Mount Airy Elementary School also have been busy studying geography facts, maps and current events. A geography club made up of fourth- and fifth-graders who demonstrated their geographical ability through a screening test has been meeting once a week for several months.

Under the direction of extended enrichment teacher Kathy Dixon, fourth-grade teacher Andrea Bunting and parent volunteer Dawn Bay, the students have used a variety of activities in preparation for the geography bee. Computer games, newspapers, board games and products from other countries were used during the club meetings to teach the students geography concepts.

The school-level competition was won by Mount Airy Elementary fifth-grader Ben Bohrer.

Ben next will take a 100-question written exam that will determine if he is eligible to compete at the state level.

Matthew Coyle was the school-level winner from Mount Airy Middle School.

Matthew has years of experience in competing in the geography bees. He has participated in the bees since fourth grade, and has advanced as far as the national competition in the past.

The eighth annual National Geography Bee will be held May 28-29 in Washington.

Bike class offered

When warm spring days arrive, there also comes the urge to spend more of our time outdoors. A great way to satisfy that craving, as well as enjoy the benefits of increased physical activity, is bicycling.

A bike class is being offered through Howard County Recreation Department for Howard and Carroll County residents who want to learn more about the sport. The class begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lisbon Elementary School, 15901 Frederick Road, Lisbon.

The five-week session will cover such topics as emergency repairs, bicycle upgrades, and different biking activities and bike routes in the area.

Offered for the past 20 years, the biking class is taught by Larry Black, founder of Mount Airy Bicycle Club. You may register by calling 795-2929 or (301) 831-5151. The fee is $30, $33 for out-of-county residents.

Pinewood Derby

Cub Scout Pack 733 of Winfield will hold its Pinewood Derby race tonight at Winfield Elementary.

Thirty Cub Scouts each received a block of wood and had several weeks to build his model car. The boys race their cars against each other, and will be judged for speed, workmanship and originality.

Ribbons will be awarded to the winners by Cub Master Bill Beadenkops at the pack's Blue and Gold Banquet on Feb. 18.

Christy Kruhm's Southwest Carroll Neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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