Celebrating geography

Date Published: 
Jan. 27, 2017

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The annual National Geographic Spelling Bee was held at Lord Baltimore Elementary School drew some talented students and enthusiastic crowds. Below, from left, Ian Lewis (first place), Jackson Chandler (third) and Jack Cappo (second).Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The annual National Geographic Spelling Bee was held at Lord Baltimore Elementary School drew some talented students and enthusiastic crowds. Below, from left, Ian Lewis (first place), Jackson Chandler (third) and Jack Cappo (second).

What is the tallest mountain in Africa? Which country produces the most coffee beans? What is the capital of Iowa?

Students answer questions like these every year at the National Geographic Bee.

Locally, fifth-grader Ian Lewis will represent Lord Baltimore Elementary School at the next level of competition this year, as the winner out of 10 student finalists representing each of LB’s fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.

The runners-up were fourth-grader Jack Cappo in second place and fifth-grader Jackson Chandler in third place.

Questions can include anything relating to geography, such as culture, landforms, location, continents, industry, natural resources and more.

Teacher and organizer Kathleen Yuhanick said LB students brought their A-game to the Jan. 18 competition.

“They were very good. I was quite impressed,” Yuhanick said. “No one was eliminated right off the bat. This was a good group. Even if they didn’t get the answer correct, they were very close in proximity. There weren’t any, like, out-there answers.”

Yuhanick has brought the bee to her various schools throughout her career in Maryland and the Indian River School District. She said a strong background in geography will serve students going into the future.

“We’re no longer just dealing with people in the United States. It’s a global economy. The internet has just opened up everything in the world,” Yuhanick said. “These children will now compete with people all over the world for jobs. With the internet, outsourcing, telecommunications…”

Finalists studied with practice tests and daily questions on National Geographic Society’s website.

Before winter break, Yuhanick gave an atlas to all the classroom winners, “Just so they can get an idea of what geography entails. It’s not just a map. But it does have maps of production, population, that type of thing.”

LB’s competition is staged in front of all fifth-, fourth- and third-grade students.

“The students in the audience were really involved. They were listening intently,” Yuhanick said. “We invite the third grade, so they see what they’ll be doing in the fourth and fifth grade,” and there’s lots of parental support for the competitors, she noted.

Next, Lewis and the other school champions will take a paper test. The top 100 qualifiers will enter the state competition in Wilmington, which is a single competition for students in grades 4 to 8. The Delaware winner will then represent the First State at national competition.

More details about the National Geographic Bee are online at www.nationalgeographic.org/bee.