NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem’s Pequenakonck School fourth-grader, Ben Aybar, approached its new principal, Mary Johnson, just days after she arrived, to ask if the school could register to participate in the National Geographic Bee.
The annual competition is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and attracts thousands of fourth- to eighth-graders across the country. The society describes it as “an entertaining and challenging test of geographic knowledge, [aimed to] encourage teachers, spark student interest and increase public awareness.”
“He wrote me a letter just after I got here,” said Johnson, “and then took the initiative to get the plan together and the program started.”
Twenty-two PQ students signed up. They took a preliminary written test that narrowed the field down to ten who participated in an after-school oral bee, Johnson continued.
A couple of the brainteasers were:
Name the large chain of volcanic islands that stretch about 1,200 miles westward from the Alaska Peninsula.
The Yaghan were a nomadic tribe indigenous to Tierra del Fuego, an island group that is divided between Argentina and what other country?
Most of the adults in the audience admitted they could not answer these questions, nor many of the others.
Ben Aybar won the oral bee, and now has to take another written test, Johnson said. “If he does well, he may participate at the state level in Albany in April.”
The contest materials are supplied by the National Geographic Society to schools that register for the program.
In case you were wondering, the volcanic islands are the Aleutians and the dividing country is Chile.