Students participate in state geography bee

Three students at Beavercreek-area schools advanced to the state round of the National Geography Bee.

Abhinav Prasad, 14, an 8th grader at Ferguson Middle School; Matthew Riekens, 13, an 8th grader at Ankeney Middle School and Madeline Sanders, 11, a fifth grader at St. Luke Elementary School all won their respective school geography bees. But while most schools in the state of Ohio hold geography bees, only 100 school winners qualified to attend the state bee in Columbus on April 5, after taking a rigorous written examination.

In the geography bee, students answer a variety of geography related questions, including state and world capitals, geographic landmarks and cultures. The national geography bee is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Sanders started her school’s geography bee by missing the first question (the competition works on a double elimination format) but powered back to win. Her winning question: What South American capital east of Lake Titicaca has the highest elevation?

“I took an educated guess,” Sanders remembered after the competition. “I remembered the La Paz (Bolivia) was in the mountains and I knew it was east of Lake Titicaca so I said it. I was right.”

Sanders said she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up and her interest in the ocean and oceanic life has helped fueled a complimentary interest in geography. She also enjoys traveling with her family and said her favorite place to visit is Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

Riekens is an avid traveler and history buff. When his family vacationed in Georgia, he insisted they visit the Jimmy Carter Museum in Atlanta. Despite being in middle school, he is enrolled in an advanced high school history class.

“My winning question was ‘Bishkek is the capital of what landlocked Asian country south of Kazakhstan?’” Riekens said. “I was pretty sure it was Kyrgyzstan. I felt confident.”

Prasad was nearly stumped by a question on a Chinese River, but won his competition by naming the only Chinese River he knew.

“I’ll be studying a lot more about rivers and China for the state competition,’ Prasad said.

Prasad said he enjoys studying geography and history.

“I’ve traveled with my family to India several times and have also traveled to other parts of the world,” Prasad said. “I really enjoy learning about other people and their cultures.”

None of the three won the state championship in Columbus but all finished in the top half of qualifiers.