Working for several months learning, studying and memorizing geography, 21 students in fourth- through sixth-grade at Alden Terrace School in the Elmont School District tested their knowledge during the school-level competition of the annual National Geographic Bee on Jan. 11. Sixth-grader Elekwa Onwuchekwa took the top prize for the second year in a row, winning in a tiebreaker round.
“I am so thrilled that we get as many kids to join as we do,” said Joan Farrell, the school’s media specialist, who advises the students in the bee. “Studying geography is one of the best things they can do to broaden their horizons. They learn about different people and different places. They are empowered and become excited about the world.”
Consisting of five rounds, the bee asks questions, which are prepared by the National Geographic Society, that focus on U.S. geography, state nicknames, and continental and physical geography. Two students, Melina Persaud and Elekwa, answered all questions correctly, bringing them to the tiebreaker round, where Elekwa provided the correct answer on a single elimination question. Elekwa now has the opportunity to take a written exam to qualify for the statewide competition.
“Stimulating students to work on their own – intrinsic motivation – is very important in becoming a lifelong learner,” said Principal Amy Buchanan, noting that this is an activity the students volunteer to do. “The best way to learn something is to really get an interest in it and start to explore things you are interested in.”
The students have been meeting three mornings a week since September with Ms. Farrell to study geography using an atlas, maps and other educational material. This group represented the largest number of students who have ever participated in the competition at Alden Terrace.