Millburn Students Rock the National Geographic Geobee

By: Michele DiPasquale


We’ve all heard of spelling bees – spelling contests in which students strive to be champions and win prizes, obviously. But just to make school competitions more diverse and interesting, there is now The National Geographic Geography Bee.


Since 1989, the National Geographic Society has sponsored this annual geography contest, the purpose of which is to offer and reward students with inspiration and curiosity about the world.


Students from Millburn schools earned their place in this year’s Nat GeoBee contest. Throughout the month of January this year, students at Hartshorn Elementary, Wyoming Elementary, Washington Elementary, and Millburn Middle School participated in the qualifiers for the State and National GeoBee competitions.


The GeoBee is open to students in the fourth through eighth grades in participating schools from the United States and its territories. Nearly 10,000 schools across the United States will compete in the 2019 National Geographic GeoBee for a chance to win college scholarships, as well as for the glory of being the Nat GeoBee Champion.


During the contest, students are asked to respond out loud, one at a time, to questions regarding American and world geography, including landmarks and map-reading. Championship round questions require written responses, as well.


The Nat Geo Bee, to which it’s often referred, became a revered competition almost at its very beginning, so much so that for its first 25 years running the Nat Geo Bee Finals was hosted by Alex Trebek of the world-famous game show Jeopardy.


Millburn’s Wyoming Elementary School fourth-grader Ryan Wang qualified to progress to the New Jersey State Championships on March 29 at Rowan University in Glassboro. The National Championship awards a prize of $1,000 in cash and a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Championship. Ella Trautner and Poppy Meiler were runners up. Other 4th graders who participated were Marcello Carlucci, Shriya Iyer, Yana Novak, Liam Palma, Rishi Raina, and Ashna Swaroop.


At Washington School, 10 fifth grade students competed in the GeoBee, with first, second and and third place earned by Kedaar Shankarnarayan, Joey Deng, and Ishaan Bharadwaj. Joining the ranks of fifth-grade finalists are Jonah Ladetsky, Jose Landauro, Kaitlyn Mai, Alexander Mischel, Jake Parker, Aadit Shrivastava, and Sanjana Srivastava.


Millburn Middle School boasted 11 students who qualified through classroom tournaments to participate in the school finals. Finalists were Tyler Baron, Ben Brett, Tea Datson, Matthew Dooley, Naina Grover, Matthew Herbert, Liam Robins, Jake Roesler, Audrey Shin, Henry Sun, and Nicole Xie. Eighth-grader Matthew Dooley finished first place, Matthew Herbert, a sixth-grader took second place, while third place was claimed by Liam Robins, also in the eighth grade.


Holly Foley is the grades five through eight District Curriculum Supervisor.


“After noticing how much fun the fifth-graders had last year in the National Geographic Bee at Washington School, I explored how to bring it to Millburn Middle School, and guidance counselor Mr. Nick Pisa was integral in this effort. It was a whole school affair,” Foley said.


Each team of 100-plus students had classroom competitions in Social Studies classes. Therefore, each finalist represented over 100 students. The School Level Bee took place on January 8th of this year and was the first event in the new innovative space.

“It was a fun, friendly, and exciting competition. We look forward to continuing the tradition next year,” Foley shared.


National Geographic Magazine is the colossal entity that created the Nat Geo Bee and has been well-known for decades. According to National Geographic’s website, “We are an impact-driven global nonprofit organization that pushes the boundaries of exploration, furthering understanding of our world and empowering us all to generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come. Our ultimate vision: a planet in balance.”


The National Geographic Society developed the GeoBee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States, and in the last 30 years, 120 million students have learned about the world through participation in the GeoBee.

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