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Organizing a Local National Geographic Bee

The National Geographic Society has hosted its annual geography competition for the last 15 years in response to embarrassing results of a Gallup survey conducted for the Society in 1988 and 1989. American youths scored lower in geographic knowledge than their counterparts in every other nation surveyed. Their goal in getting geography back into the American classroom is being fulfilled as more and more schools take a renewed interest in teaching and studying geography. Known by most as the Geography Bee, the Society has recently renamed the event the National Geographic Bee. Nearly 5 million students participate yearly in this 3 level geography competition for the First Place prize of a $25,000 college scholarship.

Homeschoolers have fared well in most recent bees. James Williams of WA won the 2003 Bee and in 2002 ten year old Calvin McCarter from MI was the national winner. In the 2000 Bee, second place was held by homeschooler, George Thampy of MO. He placed third nationally in1999 when fellow homschooler, David Beihl from SC, was the nation's First Place winner. It is quite common to see four or more home schooled students in attendance at the national bee as their state finalist.

The National Geographic Society, to their credit, has made provisions in their rules for including students who are schooled at home. Those interested in organizing a National Geographic Bee for homeschoolers need only a minimum of 6 students. To qualify, students must be in the 4-8th grade and exclusively home schooled. The Society stresses that they prefer homeschoolers try to participate as county groups or as a larger homeschool association, so start by contacting the county support group leader in your area to see if they are planning to register.

Here's how it works*:

   1. Registered groups hold School Level Bees from the end of November to mid January.
   2. The winner of each School Level Bee takes a written Qualifying Test.
   3. The Society selects the top100 students of each state from the Qualifying Test for the
      State Level Bee.
   4. The State Level Bee is held on the same day for all 55 participating states and territories.

  •  All State Level participants receive a T-shirt and certificate of participation.
  •  The State Level winner receives $100, a prize, and a trip for 2 to Washington D.C. for the national competition. (2nd place: $75, and a prize; 3rd place: $50 and a prize)

   5. State Level winners participate in the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C
      and compete for the First Place prize of $25,000 Scholarship (2nd place, $15,000 college Scholarship; 3rd place, $10,000 college scholarship).

Registration Information*

To register you will need a reliable contact person who is not related to any of the students who will be participating. This contact person will receive an Instruction Booklet with further explanation of the rules, the actual questions for the school level bee, and the written test.

Send $50.00 and a letter of intent with the name, addresses and ages of at least 6 exclusively homeschooled students to:

National Geographic Bee
1145 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036-4688

More students can be added to the group at any time up until the school level Bee is held. Each registered group will automatically receive information in August to register again for the next year. For additional information contact Karen Black at the Bee office, (202) 828-6659.

Okay, now you're registered what's next? You will need to schedule a date and arrange for a place to hold your school level Bee. A church, clubhouse, or school building will do fine. The Instruction Booklet will give you the rules for holding a Bee and for administering the written test to your winner. Follow their instructions to the letter. It is important to maintain the integrity of the homeschool community.

Note: Preparing a student to participate? We often have parents tell us they use Trail Guide to World Geography as a great starting point.

*(For the most current information on the National Geographic Bee see the National Geographic Website)