Two national championship events with $90,000 in awards will be held May 19-22 in the nation’s capital
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, April 30, 2019 – For seven consecutive years, Indian-American students have won the prestigious and rather grueling National Geographic GeoBee and an even higher number of geography whizzes of Indian origin will participate in the championship event next month.
What is noticeably different this year is that there are two competitions: the original GeoBee, now in its 31st year; and the newly launched GeoChallenge. The national championships of both competitions will be held May 19-22 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in downtown DC.
Of the 54 state winners in grades four through eight who are heading to the nation’s capital to participate in the GeoBee, some 21, nearly forty percent, are Indian-Americans.
At stake is a chance to win one of three college scholarships totaling $40,000. The champion will be conferred with the top award of $25,000, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and an all-expenses-paid expedition to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour II. Second and third place winners will receive $10,000 dollars and $5,000, respectively. Following the preliminary rounds beginning May 20, the top-ten-scoring students will each receive $1,000 in cash.
The 54 participants were selected from a pool of over 4,600 students and are winners of the National Geographic GeoBee State Competition. It is noteworthy that the original pool comprised over 2.5 million students of nearly 10,000 schools in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, US Atlantic and Pacific 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 championship of the GeoBee, and ten will advance to the final round.
In addition, for the first time this year, 183 student teams participated in 16 regional GeoChallenge competitions and the winning teams will head to DC for the championship event. The top team will be awarded $25,000, a trophy for it’s school, and support to implement it’s GeoChallenge solution from National Geographic staff. Second and third place teams will receive $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to implement their GeoChallenge solutions.
The GeoBee is an academic competition that helps to improve student knowledge of geography, world cultures, physical features, history and earth science. It is tough and challenging, but also entertaining and very impressive!
The GeoChallenge empowers student teams to address a pressing issue facing the planet. The inaugural edition challenged students in grades five through eight nationwide to learn about and create solutions for single-use-plastic pollution in waterways.
“At the National Geographic Society, we are deeply committed to empowering the next generation of planetary stewards”, said Dr. Vicki Phillips, Executive Vice President and Chief Education Officer of the National Geographic Society, in a press release. “The GeoBee and GeoChallenge are tremendous opportunities to ignite the spirit of exploration – inspiring students to better understand the world around them, communicate their ideas and solve real challenges to address the critical issues facing our planet”, stated the nationally recognized educator.
The GeoBee has been held every year since 1989 and in recent times, Indian-American kids have won the top prize.
In 2018, they bagged the top three positions. Venkat Ranjan, 13, of California was crowned the winner. The question which propelled him to the top was: ‘Lebanon has a population most similar to which South American country’? His answer: ‘Paraguay’.
In second place was Anoushka Buddhikot, 13, of New Jersey and the third place finisher was Vishal Sareddy, 14, of Georgia.
Pranay Varada, 14, of Texas was crowned champion of the 2017 edition 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 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 fairly recent national champions were 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 2019 National Geographic GeoBee are:
– Krish Nathan of Alabama, in fourth grade at Deer Valley Elementary School, Hoover;
– Ahil Eranian of Arkansas, in eighth grade at Haas Hall Academy, Bentonville;
– Jishnu Nayak of California, in sixth grade at Peter Hansen Elementary School, Mountain House;
– Arjun Patel of Washington, DC, in fifth grade at St. Albans School, McLean;
– Kaylan Patel of Florida, in seventh grade at Windermere Preparatory School, Windermere;
– Anish Raja of Georgia, in fourth grade at Brookwood Elementary School, Cumming;
– Omkar Gadewar of Illinois, in seventh grade at Madison Junior High School, Naperville;
– Karthik Varigonda of Indiana, in seventh grade at Central Middle School, Columbus;
– Rishi Kumar of Maryland, in eighth grade at Ellicott Mills Middle School, Ellicott City;
– Atreya Mallanna, in sixth grade at William Diamond Middle School, Lexington;
– Aarush Tutiki of Michigan, in fifth grade at Wass Elementary School, Troy;
– Adhithya Anandaraj of Minnesota, in eighth grade at Roosevelt Middle School, Blaine;
– Advait Singh of Nebraska, in sixth grade at Scott Middle School, Lincoln;
– Lakshay Avi Sood of New Mexico, in eighth grade at Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque;
– Vaibhav Hariram of North Carolina, in sixth grade at Mills Park Middle School, Apex;
– Satvik Pochiraju of Ohio, in fifth grade at Olentangy Meadows Elementary School, Lewis Center;
– Aditya Narayanan of Tennessee, in seventh grade at Riverdale Elementary and Middle School, Germantown;
– Nihar Janga of Texas, in eighth grade at Canyon Ridge Middle School, Austin;
– Vegarandhura Tariyal of Vermont, in sixth grade at Charlotte Central School, Charlotte;
– Anish Susarla of Virginia, in eighth grade at Belmont Ridge Middle School, Leesburg; and
– Adhav Ravikumar of Wisconsin, in seventh grade at Forest Park Middle School, Franklin.
An online link: