James Hart School Social Studies teacher Virginia Donahue congratulates Umar Ryan, fourth from left, on winning the National Geographic Geo Bee. He advanced to state competition. Other contestants were, front row Nick Cross and Georgia Holt, and back row from left Abdul-Karim Toheeb-Lawal, Erik Dedo, Sola Adeyigo and Malcolm Smith.
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Hart students study the world for Geo Bee

  James Hart School Social Studies teacher Virginia
  Donahue congratulates Umar Ryan, standing
  fourth from left, on winning the National
  Geographic Geo Bee. He advanced to state
  competition. Other contestants were, front
  row Nick Cross and Georgia Holt, and back
  row from left Abdul-Karim Toheeb-Lawal,
  Erik Dedo, Sola Adeyigo and Malcolm
(Provided photo)

Students at James Hart School have an expanded world view thanks to their participation in National Geographic’s Geo Bee.

The Homewood school has participated in the Geo Bee for more than 15 years. This year two sixth graders, two seventh graders and three eighth graders participated.

Social studies teacher Virginia Donahue worked with the students after school to get them ready for the competition. Although District 153’s curriculum includes the study of continents in sixth grade, the states and capitals in seventh grade, and 25 major world countries in eighth grade, Donahue said the contestants really put a lot of effort into preparing for the Geo Bee. She has kept past contest questions to use for training purposes.

This year’s contest in late January had three sections of questions provided by National Geographic. All contestants started in section one, which had seven rounds of questions. Donahue said generally the students are given multiple-choice options.


Half the students advanced to the second “speed round” which led to the final two contestants in a championship round. The winner was Umar Ryan who advanced to the state Geo Bee.

Malcolm Smith took second place. Other contestants were Nick Cross, Georgia Holt, Abdul-Karim Toheeb-Lawal, Erik Dedo and Sola Adeyigo.

In case you think the Geo Bee is a snap, try these two championship round questions:

  • Last August, President Barack Obama announced the expansion of a marine national monument creating the world’s larget marine protected area.  The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is located off the coast of which U.S. State? (Answer: Hawaii)
  • The endangered snow leopard is being protected in the Annapurna Conservation Area, with includes the Annapurna Massif in which Asian country?  (Answer: Nepal)

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