Have you ever heard of the National Geographic Bee (sometimes called a “GeoBee”)?? It’s an annual geography competition for kids! In the US (and around the world), thousands of schools participate in this geography contest, moving their best students on to the state and then national level. Top finishers are invited to compete in the National Geographic World Championship (in 2015 it will be in Moscow, Russia!). Here is everything you need to know to set up your own GeoBee, and to see what it takes to move on to the championships!
Deadlines for the 2017 National (US) Geographic Bee:
- August 3, 2016 – Registration opens. $100 until December 22, 2016. Check or credit card payments.
- October 3, 2016 – School Bee materials available for download.
- December 22, 2016 – January 23, 2017 – Registration increases to $120. Credit cards only.
- January 23, 2017 – Bee registration closes.
- February 6, 2017 – Deadline for completion of State Bee Qualifying Tests.
- March 31, 2017 – State Bees.
The Canadian Geography Challenge also has a series of competitions at the school-level, province level, and national level, as do other countries.
How to Get Started
Local School Geo Bee:
The first thing you need to do is ask Social Studies teachers in your school or district there is a GeoBee. The principal of the schools needs to register the school in the fall every year (notice that this year the registration has been extended to December 13!). Any homeschoolers, private or public schools with grades 4-8 are allowed to participate if they have a minimum of 6 students participating.
Once you are registered, the National Geographic Society sends packets with the rules, the questions, and the certificates so that the schools can be in charge of their own Geographic Bee. Each school will need to hold a preliminary competition, where students will be orally asked one question per round, and they will have 15 seconds to begin their responses. The students with the most points (one point per correct answer).
Many schools like to hold the final stage is in front of the whole school at an assembly, in order to encourage participants, spark excitement about geography, and even to engage the public about geography awareness. In this round there are oral and written responses required, and participants are eliminated after 2 incorrect answers. The final two students remaining will advance to the Championship Round. Both are asked the same question, and have 15 seconds to write their answers on a writing tablet, until a winner is chosen with the most correct answers.
State Geo Bee
To get to the State Bee, the school winner must take a qualifying test of 70 multiple choice questions and send it to National Geographic by mid-January. In the US, the top 100 students from each state compete in a state bee. It is very exciting to compete in front of all of the families and friends, and sometimes is televised!
National Geo Bee
Once the state bee winners are determined, they win a trip to Washington DC in May to compete for the title of National Champion. The Preliminary Competition ends with the top 10 winners. The questions are harder, and include more graphics and maps, and participants only have 12 seconds to answer each question. Alex Trebek (from Jeopardy!) hosts the final and championship rounds, and it is usually televised. The top three finishers take home college scholarships, plus money for their school- and they become lifetime members of National Geographic!
Check out the final moments from the 2013 National Geo Bee:
Preparing for the Geo Bee
The best way to prepare for the Geo Bee is to start NOW! Here are some resources to increase geography knowledge and awareness.
The National Geographic Study Corner: this web site has loads of hands-on activities to get kids thinking about geography