7th-Grader Headed for National Geographic Bee

Sparsh Bhardwaj, a 7th grader at the F.H. Tuttle Middle School, is headed for the National Geographic Bee, May 24-25. Photo by Ben Sparle.

Which city is farther west: Reno, Nevada or Los Angeles, California? Sparsh Bhardwaj, a 7th grader at the F.H. Tuttle Middle School, would undoubtedly know that the correct answer is Reno. Because of his expert knowledge about geography, Sparsh is headed for the National Geographic Bee which will be held in Washington, D.C., on May 24-25.

What makes Sparsh so proficient at geography? “I started reading at an early age,” he explains. “As a result, I’ve accumulated a lot of general knowledge. My parents have helped me to channel that knowledge into useful areas.”

To prepare for the national competition, Sparsh has purchased an atlas and a preparation handbook. He is hard at work absorbing as much as he can about the earth’s continents, countries, states and provinces, islands, and major physical features.

How did Sparsh qualify for the National Bee? He had to best over a hundred other Vermont students in order to prevail. But his Geo Bee journey started long before the state competition. In early fall, school principals register to receive Bee contest materials. Each school must commit to the minimum participation requirement of six students from the eligible grade levels in the school-level contest.

Registered schools receivee contest materials in mid-November. The packet contains everything a school needs to participate in the competition including an instruction booklet with suggested procedures, question booklet, a medal to present to the one school winner, and the qualifying test that must be administered to the school winner. This test determines the top-scoring one hundred students in each state who are then invited to enter the state-level competition. Individual scores are not released. Notification of qualification is sent by the second week of March.

Sparsh is a member of the F.H. Tuttle Middle School’s “Discovery” team, and he is taught social studies by teacher Sarah Meisenzahl.

After the preliminary elimination competition in Washington, the top ten finalists will do battle against each other. The contest is moderated by Alex Trebek, the host of “Jeopardy!”. The top three prizes are scholarships in the amounts of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000. The finals will be aired later this year on the National Geographic Channel and on PBS.

The National Geographic Bee, an educational program of the National Geographic Society, is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography.

Want to learn more about geography? If you do, you may want to check out the National Geographic Bee’s website at: www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee. The website is filled with interesting and useful information for students, parents, and teachers, and it contains a daily “GeoBee Quiz” that you can take in “expert” or “apprentice” mode. To get you started: which state reaches farther north: Maine or Minnesota? Sparsh Bhardwaj would know the answer, but it may surprise you.

Congratulations to South Burlington’s own Sparsh Bhardwaj, Vermont’s State Geography Bee winner. Sparsh, we wish you well at the National competition.

SOURCE: Bill Wargo, Correspondent

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