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Fallon 7th Grader Named California National Geographic Bee Semifinalist

March 12, 2013

Fallon Middle School 7th grader Gary Yang was recently notified by the National Geographic Society that he qualified to compete as a semifinalist in the 2013 California National Geographic Bee, sponsored by Google and Plum Creek. The 2013 California National Geographic Bee will be held in Sacramento at Cosumnes River College on Friday, April 5, 2013.

Gary Yang, “My interest in geography started back in the 5th grade at school in Tennessee. I had never been in a geography bee before, but when the time came, I realized that I was actually pretty good at naming places, countries, borders, bodies of water and whatever else. I started studying, memorizing facts, playing games, and ended up going to the state competition in Nashville. As a school representative, I placed just out of reach of the final round, but since then, the experience has taught me a lot about myself. Or how I could do better next time. A few times I’ve stumbled on an easy question, but I just have to learn to pick myself up, and sometimes, to calm myself down. I’ve learned that you don’t need to impress people by answering questions as fast as you can. In the end, your goal is to take the time to give your most accurate answer.

“When it comes to the competition, you need to focus. You give your best answer, and you try to think straight. There isn’t much need for cramming the night before. Try to relax, and make sure you don’t panic. If you think you might have heard something wrong, ask the moderator to repeat the question (just don’t ask too often- you only have 2 opportunities for a repeat).

“Geography is about memory. Just keep on studying, and you’ll go far. We learn from our mistakes. However, I still think that geography deserves to be a more important part of our education. If more kids were interested, then maybe we could send an even more qualified student (I try my best to be modest) to state next year, or the year after. According to Stephen Cunha, this year’s coordinator, two thousand schools competed for this year’s state bee. Only the top one hundred and nine students received a spot in the state contest, so if you get as far you should already have some confidence in your knowledge. Geography is a game. You just have to learn how to play it.”

This is the 25th anniversary of the Bee. Bees were held in schools with fourth through eighth-grade students throughout the state to determine each school’s Bee winner. School-level winners then took a qualifying test, which they submitted to the National Geographic Society. In each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, and the U.S. territories, the National Geographic Society invited the students with the top 100 scores to compete at the state level.

The state winner will receive $100, the “Complete National Geographic on DVD,” and a trip to Washington, D.C., where he/she will represent Michigan in the national finals at National Geographic Society headquarters, May 20- 22, 2013.  The first-place national winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the Society. The national winner will also travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, to the Galapagos Islands. The winner will experience geography firsthand through up-close encounters with the wildlife and landscape of Galapagos.

National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild will air the final round of the 2013 National Geographic Bee, moderated by Alex Trebek, on Thursday May 23.

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