Dist. 54 Buzzes with Geography Bees Benefits of Competition Extend Past History into Culture, Diversity

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Byline: Shruti Date Daily Herald Staff Writer

Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 officials said the benefits of holding geography bees extend beyond the trophies winners may take home.

This month Dooley, Dirksen, Hale and Armstrong elementary schools are hosting geography bees. Fairview and Muir held their competitions in mid-December.

Geography bee faculty sponsors said the contests provide an extracurricular venue to incorporate geography into a student's education, because the subject sometimes falls by the wayside.

District officials acknowledged although they try to teach geography to students, it is not a regimented subject like math, history or English.

"It used to be geography was taught as one subject and history as another. Then social studies became the overall subject and geography was neglected. Now it's making a comeback," said Uma Bhatia, a geography bee co-sponsor at Hale.

"Geography awareness started in the 1980s because people did not know the names of the capitals of their state," said Peggy Wilson, Hale geography co-sponsor.

Hale Principal Craig Gaska said a greater interest in activities such as geography bees resulted because educators realized the deficit in geography awareness.

"There is a greater awareness of geography and importance to know it today," Wilson said. "They need to know Chad is a country in Africa, not just something in Florida."

Gaska said geography awareness is a must because today's students will eventually work in a world economy and world culture.

"The workforce is global. Anyone who is in marketing will need to know where a product would be most marketable ... in Argentina or Scandinavia," said Lori Kandl, Hale geography bee co-sponsor.

Fairview geography bee sponsor Christine Dick agreed.

"Geography is important because the world is getting smaller," Dick said.

"Global issues are out there in the forefront," said Armstrong Principal Pamela Samson.

"I think kids need to be more attuned to geography than they were in the past. They need to be able to talk about world events outside of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg," Samson said. …