Students learn about the world

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One day 14-year-old Evan Thayer would like to travel the world. Until then, he'll learn as much about it as he can -- things like Mount Fuji is sacred to the Shinto people and the largest island in the Indian Ocean on the Tropic of Capricorn is Madagascar.

Those were just two of the questions he answered correctly to become the geography bee champion this year at Carson Middle School.

"I've always been kind of good at geography," he said. "I remember things well."

Once students win at their schools, they are given a written exam. The top 100 scores throughout the state will compete in Las Vegas on April 5 for a chance to go to the national competition in May.

Students from fourth- to eighth-grade compete against one another and this leaves fifth-grader Briana Collings a little bit nervous.

"Some questions were pretty easy but some questions I'm pretty sure I totally missed," she said.

Collings, a fifth-grader at Fremont Elementary School, credits a little bit of luck to her winning the school competition.

"The last question was 'what is the largest city nearest to the Mississippi River?'" she said. "I did my state report on Tennessee so I knew it was Memphis."

However, David Reese, 10, a fourth-grader at Fritsch Elementary School, already knows what it's like to compete against older students and win.

"I never thought that I would win because I was going against a fifth-grader," he said. "I was surprised."

Justin Norvell, an eighth-grader at St. Teresa School, remembered most of what he knew for the bee from his sixth-grade geography class.

He is most interested in Australia.

"I like all the different animals and land forms they have there," he said.

Thayer is most fascinated with Israel, the center of his Baha'i faith.

"There's a lot of violence there with the Pakistan and Israeli conflict," he said. "I'd like to help that out."

If Thayer places among the top 100, it will be his second trip to the state competition. He was geography bee champion of Fremont Elementary School in the fifth grade.

Jane Johnson, who coordinates the bee at Fremont Elementary School, said it is a positive influence on those who participate.

"It makes them so much more aware of the world and able to understand what goes on in it," she said. "The questions are not just about physical geography but about culture and language as well."

The results of the test should be available in March.

Other winners are Carl Hernandez, a seventh-grader at Eagle Valley Middle School and Stephen Deterding, a sixth-grader at Bethlehem Lutheran School.


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