Sixth-grader wins chance at state level in National Geographic Geography Bee


March 18, 2001|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CAN YOU NAME the longest river in Egypt? What do you call the imaginary lines on a map that separate east from west and north from south? How about naming the island nation that is famous for reggae music?

We may not know the answers, but Michael T. Hauhn does. The Brooklyn Park Middle School sixth-grader knew enough answers to this type of questions to earn a spot in the state competition of the National Geographic Geography Bee on May 4 at Montgomery College in Germantown.

Jan Meaney, geography bee coordinator at the middle school, said 76 students entered the first stage of its competition. "Anyone could enter, and each was given a qualifying test. The 20 highest scorers qualified to take part in the school bee," Meaney said.

Ten children made it to Brooklyn Park's final round, with Michael emerging as the winner. But to qualify for the state level, he also had to pass a written test provided by National Geographic.

"The questions covered all aspects of geography - economic geography, U.S., world, natural resource and conservation geography. He took the test in a secluded room. No one had any idea of what the questions were," Meaney said.

The tests were scored by National Geographic, and as one of the 10 best, Michael qualified - and hopes to triumph in the state event to win an invitation to the National Geography Bee in Washington in May.

Michael said he was concerned, after taking the test, about how well he did.

"It's hard to judge which question was the most difficult. I was very nervous. I knew most of the answers, but when you're nervous you can be doubtful of the answers. When I found out [the results], I was so happy that I did cartwheels. I can't wait till the state contest; time has been moving pretty slow since I found out," he said.

Michael said he has always been interested in learning about geography and the world - so much so that he regularly seeks additional information on subjects that interest him. "I watch the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, but even before I started watching them I wanted to learn more about it.

"Last year I did a project about World War II and I got the idea from the History Channel. I got books about the D-Day landing at Normandy to do it," he said.

Michael plans to put his knowledge to good use. "I've been thinking about going to the Naval Academy. To do that you need to know about geography, climate and facts about the land," he said.

Throughout the process, Meaney was impressed with his overall knowledge of geography.

"Michael did very well. He is an honor-roll student. In these contests, you need to have the general basic knowledge. If you know basic United States geography, you have a shot [at winning]; if you know about early civilizations, you have a shot.

"I was impressed and surprised at Michael's knowledge in so many areas. It was clear that this is a student who reads on his own and goes outside the classroom to get information," Meaney said.

"Learning that he qualified for the state contest was wonderful news," Meaney added. "I was jumping up and down. I like to see the school be recognized and to let others know that there are really bright students here that are willing to go as far as they can and will study on their own. And this is one kid that will study. Since he's only a sixth-grader, he will have two more opportunities to enter and win. It would be really something for someone to go twice."

All of Brooklyn Park is rooting for him.

Neighborhood updates

Olde Brooklyn Park Improvement Association will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Brooklyn Park Elementary School, 14th Avenue and Morgan Road.

The president, Arleen Hodges, and vice president, Woody Bowen, will present the latest information on construction of a new Brooklyn Park fire station, the status of the expansion and rezoning plans of the Damascus House substance abuse center, and renovation of the Southview Shopping Center at 5800 Ritchie Highway.

Information: 410-636-3269 or 410-636-0352.


Arundel Improvement Association will sponsor a trip to Wildwood, N.J., from June 4 to 7.

The price of $199 includes transportation, hotel, an evening of music and dancing, a cruise, a day trip to Atlantic City, a train ride through historic Cape May, N.J., breakfasts and two dinners.

Information: 410-789-2192.

Arundel Improvement Association Seniors will meet at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the AIA Hall, 705 Cross St. in Brooklyn Park. Topics for discussion include the annual Salute to Seniors sponsored by Community Advocates for Senior Opportunity and Services and a planned luncheon cruise.

Information: 410-789-2192.

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