The Saratoga Sun -

Where in the world is ...

SES students compete in NatGeo geography bee


FW Broschart

fourth grader and first-place winner, Chloe Shumaker, Fourth grader Samantha Burks, and sixth grader Kelsy Muhamet show off their prizes from the geography bee.

"The Island of Mauritius, a former British Colony, is located in which ocean?" Valerie Larscheid asked a group of Saratoga Elementary School students Wednesday in the school library.

The students were taking part in the National Geographic Society's geography bee, a national competition that awards scholarships and other prizes for students' knowledge of, and curiosity about, the world around them. The winner of the bee at SES qualifies to take an online test with National Geographic. If successful, the student will earn the right to travel to Casper in March to compete at the state level.

The bee was comprised of two segments, a written portion and an oral quiz. Three winners were chosen at SES, but only the first place competitor, fourth-grader Chloe Shumaker, will be allowed to take the online test and possibly put herself on the road to actually visit one of the places about which she was quizzed-Washington, D.C.-as a contestant in the National Geography Bee in May.

During the written portion, students were quizzed on continents, oceans and other features of geography, and were also asked to answer questions about famous people and events throughout history. Frank Lloyd Wright, designer of Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, was, in fact, a famous architect. Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in Springfield, Massachusetts. The name of the forced relocation of Native Americans to areas west of the Mississippi River was called the Trail of Tears.

During the oral portion of the competition, students had to announce their answers into a microphone. There was a strict penalty for being incorrect; a wrong answer would remove a student from the competition unless every other student in the group got the answer wrong.

On it went with questions about the 50 U.S. states. "Which state straddles the Tropic of Cancer?"

America's southernmost state, Hawai'i, of course.

And the question that Chloe Shumaker got right in order to wrap up her first place finish? "The City of Saint Louis, in Missouri, is located on the border of which state?"

That answer is Illinois.

Shumaker got the answer and won first place. Samantha Burks, also a fourth-grader at SES, took second place, and Kelsy Muhamet of the sixth grade earned a third place finish. All the contestants received a copy of the Ultimate Fact Book, and Shumaker also took home a medal for her first place finish.

FW Broschart

Chloe Shumaker steps up to the microphone to answer her geography question Wednesday.

"What does vulcanized mean?" asked one student after the bee, in reference to the earlier question about Charles Goodyear during the written portion. "It's when you treat rubber with heat and carbon to bring out certain properties," said one observer, who once trained as a natural latex commodities expert in New York City. Rubber in its natural state melts when it gets hot outside, and cracks when it's cold and that's not good for car tires, rubber boots or gaskets in machinery, he explained.

The children, wisely, looked it up in an encyclopedia anyway as parents, teachers and students began streaming out of the library.

In case anyone else forgot, Mauritius is in the Indian Ocean East of Madagascar, near Reunion Island and the capital is Port Louis ... all according to the encyclopedia.


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