Alex, the son of Gary Larson and Tina Keller of Vermillion, is among up to 100 fourth- to eighth-graders in each of the 50 states, District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools have qualified for the state bees. Each state winner will receive $100, a National Geographic globe and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC for the national finals on May 22-23 and the chance to be crowned National Geographic Bee champion.
First prize in the national competition is a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $15,000 and $10,000 college scholarships.
"A sound knowledge of geography is essential for understanding global events and their impact on the rest of the world," said John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society. "National Geographic has always recognized the need for geographic literacy and will vigorously continue its efforts to educate our young people and empower them to be informed citizens and inspire them to care about the planet."
Kimberly Davis, president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, said, "As economic and current events underscore the importance of understanding world cultures, JPMorgan Chase believes education is essential to creating both an understanding of world cultures and communities where people can live, learn and thrive."
The state bees are the second level of the annual National Geographic Bee. The first level began last November with contests in more than 14,000 U.S. schools, in which nearly 5 million students participated.
The championship round of the National Geographic Bee – moderated by Jeopardy! quiz show host Alex Trebek for the 19th year – will be held at National Geographic's Washington, D.C. headquarters on Wednesday, May 23, and will air that day nationally on the National Geographic Channel. Produced by National Geographic Television, the finals also will be broadcast later on public television stations. Check local listings for viewing dates and times.
The 2006 National Geographic Bee champion was Bonny Jain, a 12-year-old eighth-grader from Moline, IL. The winning question was: "Name the mountains that extend across much of Wales, from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel." Answer: Cambrian Mountains.
Visitors to the Bee section of the National Geographic Society Web site, www.nationalgeographic.com/geographicbee, can hone their geography skills by checking out the new GeoBee Challenge online game. Updated with additional questions and now including photos, maps and illustrations, it is more like the National Geographic Bee than ever.
The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. The problem is not yet resolved. A National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study showed that Americans aged 18 to 24 still have limited understanding of the world within and beyond our country's borders. Even after Hurricane Katrina, one-third could not locate Louisiana, and almost half could not locate Mississippi on a U.S. map. Only four out of 10 were able to find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.