Globe Trotters

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Globe Trotters


Byline: Sara Hooker shooker@dailyherald.com

Jakob Myers and the Illinois Geography Bee have been on a collision course since he ripped the wrapping paper off his third birthday present: a globe.

That globe inspired the sixth-grader at Lisle's Kennedy Junior High to study places near and far -- knowledge he recently used to become the school's reigning Geography Bee champion.

Myers will test his geography IQ again today, April 1, when he joins 98 other contestants from throughout Illinois at the state's Geography Bee at College of DuPage.

"I've always loved learning about all of the places in the world and thinking about what it would be like to live or travel there," Myers said.

Organized by the National Geographic Society, the bee includes students in fourth through eighth grade competing against each other by answering geography-related questions about regions, cultures, food, current events and climate throughout the world.

The winner of today's competition travels to Washington, D.C., May 24 and 25 to participate in the national competition to be aired on the National Geographic Channel.

"Everybody thinks the bee is about countries and capitals," said Michael Middleton, organizer of Friday's contest, who teaches geography at downstate Centralia Junior High School. "While some of that is true, it's such a wide range of topics that these kids are asked about."

Much like the national spelling bee is about understanding roots, prefixes and suffixes to make an educated guess, the Geography Bee is about understanding regions and cultures, said David Hollander, an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at Kennedy Junior High.

"It really challenges not just their understanding of geography, but their ability to finesse their understanding into an intelligent guess," said Hollander, who organizes the school's geography bee every year.

A recent winning question from the national competition in 2009 was: "Timis County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country?"

The answer is Romania.

"Anytime they get any right in the final round, I'm always surprised," said Sue Creadon, LLC director at Franklin Middle School in Wheaton. "There are countries I didn't even know existed, and probably didn't exist when I first studied geography."

An example of a recent question in Franklin's bee, she said, was "Improving education for girls has been a priority in this country that lies on the southernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula."

"The answer is Yemen," she said. "Now, I wouldn't have known that."

Students sometimes get clues,such as nearby landmarks or landforms or waters, and have to guess the continent.

The 99 students competing today won the competition at their school or home-school group, as well as passed a written test from National Geographic. …

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