Prestigious competition with $85,000 in awards will be held May 21-23 in the nation’s capital
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, May 16, 2018 – For six consecutive years, Indian-American students have won the prestigious and rather grueling National Geographic Bee and now a good number of geography whizzes of Indian origin will be competing in the championship event next week.
Of the 54 state winners ranging in age from 10 to 14 years who are heading to the nation’s capital to participate in the 30th annual National Geographic Bee, some 16, nearly thirty percent, are Indian-Americans. The competition will be held May 21-23, capped off by the championship event at the National Geographic headquarters in downtown DC.
At stake is a chance to win one of three college scholarships totaling 85,000 dollars. The champion will be conferred with 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 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 21, the top ten winners who advance to the final on May 23 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 millions of students from thousands of 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.
“The National Geographic Society furthers global understanding and supports educators to empower their students to become the next generation of changemakers”, said Mike Ulica, interim president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, in a press release. “Through the National Geographic Bee, students – and their teachers, families and friends – learn geographic concepts and understanding. They will use these skills throughout their school and professional careers to make the world a better place”, he stated.
The competition has been held every year since 1989 and in recent times, Indian-American kids have won the top prize.
Pranay Varada, 14, of Texas was crowned champion of the 2017 National Geographic Bee after some intense, nail-biting rounds. The final question which clinched his win was: ‘What large mountain system that stretches more than 1,200 miles separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau’? Pranay correctly answered, ‘Kunlun Mountains’.
A year earlier, Indian-American kids aced the competition with Rishi Nair, 12, of Florida bagging first place, followed by Saketh Jonnalagadda, 14, of Massachusetts and Kapil Nathan, 12, of Alabama in second and third place, 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).
The Indian-American kids who will be competing in the 2018 National Geographic Bee next week are:
– Gayatri Kaimal of Arizona, in seventh grade at Basis Tucson North, Tucson;
– Venkat Ranjan of California, in eighth grade at Windemere Ranch Middle School, San Ramon;
– Kaylan Patel of Florida, in sixth grade at Windermere Preparatory School, Windermere;
– Vishal Sareddy of Georgia, a returning contestant, in eighth grade at Riverwatch Middle School, Suwanee;
– Kavya Kalathur of Iowa, in eighth grade at Pleasant Valley Junior High School, LeClaire;
– Atreya Mallanna of Massachusetts, in fifth grade at Joseph Estabrook Elementary School, Lexington;
– Paarth Sharma of Michigan, in fifth grade at Moorsbridge Elementary School, Portage;
– Anoushka Buddhikot of New Jersey, in eighth grade at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, Bridgewater;
– Lakshay Sood of New Mexico, a returning contestant, in seventh grade at Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque;
– Krishna Kamalakannan of North Dakota, a returning contestant, in eighth grade at Discovery Middle School, Fargo;
– Saket Pochiraju of Ohio, a returning contestant, in eighth grade at Orange Middle School, Lewis Center;
– Ashwin Sivakumar of Oregon, a returning contestant, in eighth grade at Oregon Episcopal School, Portland;
– Arnab Sircar of Pennsylvania, in eighth grade at Charles F Patton Middle School, Kennet Square;
– Aditya Narayanan of Tennessee, in sixth grade at Riverdale Elementary/Middle School, Germantown;
– Nihar Janga of Texas, in seventh grade at Canyon Ridge Middle School, Austin; and
– Ihsan Lishar of Washington, in fifth grade at Spiritridge Elementary School, Bellevue.