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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 05/26/2010

Geography Bee today! Test your geo smarts

By Valerie Strauss

Nearly 5 million kids across the country participated in state and local competitions for the 2010 National Geographic Bee, and it came down to 10 finalists--all boys 11 to 13 years old -- in Tuesday’s championship round being held in the nation’s capital.

Finalists in the bee, which you can watch today at 6 p.m. EDT on the National Geography Channel, hail from Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Yes, all of the finalists are boys.

I imagine if all of the finalists had been girls, there might have been some who used it as further evidence in the boys-are-failing argument.

Here’s my theory: The male finalists knew more than the kids who didn’t get into the finals.

The real concern here is how little Americans know about geography, which is more than just knowing where places are on a map.

Geographic studies look at how people, places and environments are connected, vital concepts in a world with a global economy and growing environmental problems that affect the planet.

After Hurricane Katrina, one-third of Americans ages 18-24 could not locate Louisiana on a map, and almost half couldn’t find Mississippi. More than 60 percent couldn’t find Iraq years after the U.S. military went in to topple Saddam Hussein. These were the results of a National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs geography literacy study taken in 2006--and there is no reason to think that the situation has improved.

Kids today don’t spend a lot of time in school learning about geography.

Geography was considered a core academic subject
under the No Child Left Behind law, but no money was ever designated to support the teaching it. Many states don’t require that kids take geography to graduate from high school, and many teachers don’t understand it well enough to teach it anyway.

The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States.

The National Geographic Web site gives you a chance to test your own geography knowledge with daily quizzes which you can find here.

Here are some sample questions from the site; the answers are at the bottom of this post.

1) Which state has a climate suitable for growing citrus fruits—California or Maine?

2) Which country has the world’s largest Muslim population—Indonesia or Mexico?

3) The North Atlantic current brings warm waters from the tropics to the west coast of which continent?

4) What is the term for a part of an ocean or sea that cuts far into the bordering landmass and may contain one or more bays?

5) Which Canadian province produces more than half of the country’s manufactured goods?

6) To visit the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient ceremonial capital of Persia, you would have to travel to what present-day country?


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From the National Geographic website, here are the questions and a way to get to the answers.


1) Which state has a climate suitable for growing citrus fruits—California or Maine?
You know that oranges and grapefruit are citrus fruits and that they grow in warm places. Since California’s climate is definitely warmer and sunnier than Maine’s, you correctly answer California.

2) Which country has the world’s largest Muslim population—Indonesia or Mexico?
If you have studied maps showing world religions, you will know the answer immediately. If you haven’t, you might reason that Mexico was settled by the Spanish, followers of Christianity not Islam. Either way, you correctly answer Indonesia.

3) The North Atlantic current brings warm waters from the tropics to the west coast of which continent?
From studying physical maps you know that the North Atlantic is the area of the Atlantic that lies north of the Equator and that the entire west coast of Europe borders the North Atlantic, so you correctly answer Europe.

4) What is the term for a part of an ocean or sea that cuts far into the bordering landmass and may contain one or more bays?
From studying physical features on maps and using your geographical reference book to learn about physical features, you narrow your choices to two terms: bay and gulf. Since the word "bay" is used in the question, you eliminate it as a possibility and correctly answer gulf.

5) Which Canadian province produces more than half of the country’s manufactured goods?
Even if you haven’t studied profiles of Canadian provinces, you know from your mental maps that Ontario borders all of the Great Lakes and has access to the St. Lawrence Seaway. This puts it in a better position than any other Canadian province to import materials needed for manufacturing and to export finished goods. So you correctly answer Ontario.

6) To visit the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient ceremonial capital of Persia, you would have to travel to what present-day country?
From history books or from studying country profiles, you know that Persia is the former name of Iran, so you correctly answer Iran.

By Valerie Strauss  | May 26, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Tags:  National Geographic Bee, geographic bee, geography quiz, geography studies, learning geography, national geographic studies  
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Comments

Best class ever for the global contexts of geography: World Regions, at Virginia Tech, taught by John Boyer, or "The Plaid Avenger".

http://www.plaidavenger.com/

The most popular class at the school, and highly recommended by everyone who's ever taken it.

Posted by: sarahee | May 26, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

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