Several Indian-American Whiz Kids Competing in 2017 National Geographic Bee

Challenging competition with top award of $50,000 will be held May 14-17 in the nation’s capital

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC, May 10, 2017 – For five consecutive years, Indian-American students have won the prestigious National Geographic Bee and now nearly two dozen whiz kids of Indian origin are competing in the championship event next week.

A total of fifty-four state winners ranging in age from 10 to 14 years will be heading to the nation’s capital to participate in the 29th annual National Geographic Bee, May 14-17, at the Washington Plaza Hotel. Some 21 of the whiz kids, over 38 percent, are of Indian origin.

At stake is a chance to win one of three college scholarships totaling 85,000 dollars. The champion will bag the top award of 50,000 dollars, the title of National Geographic Bee Champion, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society including a subscription to the National Geographic magazine, and an all-expenses-paid expedition to the Galapago Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour II.

Second and third place winners will receive 25,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars, respectively. Following the preliminary rounds beginning May 14, the top ten winners who advance to the final on May 17 will each receive 500 dollars.

The 54 participants have been selected from a pool of over 4,600 students in grades four through eight and are winners of their National Geographic State Bees. It is noteworthy that the original pool comprised 2.6 million students from more than 10,000 schools in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, Union Territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools. The figures are staggering when one considers that out of this original pool of millions, only 54 will compete in the National Geographic Bee, and ten will advance to the final round.

The competition, also known as the Nat Geo Bee, is an annual geography contest organized by the National Geographic Society. It is tough and challenging, but also entertaining and very impressive! The aim is to inspire and reward students for their knowledge and curiosity about the world.

“National Geographic is committed to furthering global understanding to ensure that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global awareness”, says Gary Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society. “The National Geographic Bee expands students’ knowledge of our changing planet, critical species and spaces and the human story and fosters a lifelong love of learning and exploration, turning today’s competitors into tomorrow’s leaders”.

The competition has been held every year since 1989 and in recent times, Indian-American kids have been crowned winners.

Indian-American whiz kids win the 2016 National Geographic Bee with Rishi Nair, 12, declared the champion, followed by Saketh Jonnalagadda, 14, in second place, and Kapil Nathan, 12, in third position. Photo credit: Carol Woodward / National Geographic

Rishi Nair, 12, of Florida won the 2016 National Geographic Bee; second and third place winners were Saketh Jonnalagadda, 14, of Massachusetts, and Kapil Nathan, 12, of Alabama, respectively.

Among other recent National Champions are Karan Menon of New Jersey (2015), Akhil Rekulapelli of Virginia (2014), Sathwik Karnik of Massachusetts (2013) and Rahul Nagvekar of Texas (2012).

Indian-American kids who will be competing in the 2017 National Geographic Bee next week are as follows:
– Aditya Narayanan of Arizona, in fifth grade at Sonoran Sky Elementary School, Scottsdale;
– Ahilan Eraniyan of California, in sixth grade at Diablo Vista Middle School, Danville;
– Rohan Kanchana of Delaware, in eighth grade at Newark Charter School;
– Vishal Sareddy of Georgia, in seventh grade at Riverwatch Middle School, Suvvanee;
– Shan Sai Yalavarthi of Illinois, in seventh grade at Twin Groves Middle School, Buffalo Grove;
– Sathvik Kasarabada of Kansas, in seventh grade at California Trail Middle School, Olathe;
– Nabhoneel Sil Upadhyay of Maryland, in eighth grade at Kingsview Middle School, Germantown;
– Rohan K. Rao of Missouri, in seventh grade at Ann Hawkins Gentry Middle School, Columbia;
– Abhinav S. Govindaraju of New Hampshire, in seventh grade at Ross A Lurgio Middle School, Bedford;
– Veda Bhattaram of New Jersey, in seventh grade at Robert R Lazar Middle School, Montville;
– Lakshay Sood of New Mexico, in sixth grade at Albuquerque Academy;
– Krishna Kamalakannan of North Dakota, in seventh grade at Discovery Middle School, Fargo;
– Saket Pochiraju of Ohio, in seventh grade at Orange Middle School, Lewis Center;
– Ashwin Sivakumar of Oregon, in seventh grade at Oregon Episcopal School, Portland;
– Eshan Singh of Pennsylvania, in seventh grade at Charles H Boehm Middle School, Yardley;
– Simeon Betapudi of Tennessee, in seventh grade at Evangelical Christian School, Cordova;
– Pranay Varada of Texas, in eighth grade at Dewitt Perry Middle School, Carrollton;
– Ankit Garg of Utah, in seventh grade at Bear River Charter School, Logan;
– Anshuta Beeram of Vermont, in sixth grade at Frederick H Tuttle Middle School, Burlington;
– Anish Susarla of Virginia, in sixth grade at Belmont Ridge Middle School, Leesburg;
– Arjun Nathan of Washington, in eighth grade at Pine Lake Middle School, Sammamish;


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