MISSOULA — We are here in Big Sky Country - but in a matter of 30 questions, 45 elementary and middle school students went from Montana to Italy, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere in between, as the inaugural geography bee tested young minds.
The magic words “that would be correct” - the key to moving on and moving up in the geography bee hosted at the University of Montana in partnership with the International Academic Competitions (IAC).
Although students are competing for a spot at nationals in June, David Madden - the founder of IAC and a 19-day "Jeopardy!" champion - says these kids are learning about so much more.
“Graphic education often gets short shrift," said Madden. "In the American education system it is rarely taught as a stand-alone course. But it's so important for an understanding of what's going on in the world.”
In times like this it is important to understand world geography. A war in Ukraine, ban on Russian oil, and Afghans fleeing from their country - all these world events have implications for America, so understanding where these are happening is an important part of the geography bee.
“Look at just Russia and Ukraine," Madden told MTN News. "The kids who are playing today not only know those countries, but they know where they are on the map. They know their cities and they can make sense of the conflict over there because of what they know about geography.”
- 8th Grade Champion – Aidan Miller, Foothills Community Christian School, Great Falls
- 7th Grade Champion – Luke Minton, Sacajawea Middle School, Bozeman
- 6th Grade Champion – Griffin Ingersoll, Kalispell Middle School, Kalispell
- Elementary School Champion – Evan Newcomer, Lewis & Clark Elementary School, Missoula
And for three Kalispell Middle School sutdents, geography means more than just pressing the buzzer to victory.
“You learn about like cultures and stuff and like when orders move, you know what country that is and what is,” said Spencer Lee, a Geography Bee participant.
His friends and competitors, Oliver Casey and Griffin Ingersoll, agreed, adding that geography is important so you can understand different cultures and engage with others.