National Geographic Bee a sweet success for Margot Kuntz

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter

It’s that time of year again, and on Tuesday, Jan. 16, after some winnowing, 12 students from grades 6-8, participated in the National Geographic Bee. Sponsored annually by National Geographic Society, to “reward students' curiosity about the world.” Students in grades four through eight (4-8) from 10,000 schools across the United States will compete in the 2018 National Geographic Bee for a chance to win college scholarships and “the glory of being the National Geographic Bee Champion.”
The winner will go through rounds until, hopefully, reaching the national finals in Washington, D.C. But it all starts at Roosevelt Middle School.
Pam Gilbertson who teaches Social Studies and Geography at Roosevelt Middle School, administered the questions to the panel of students. Margot Kuntz won the Bee but not until a spirited battle to the end.
“I’m excited,” she said about her victory and going on to future rounds. Asked if she had prepared she said, “A little bit.” She did not expect her success. “I thought Elijah was going to win because he’s very good at geography,” she said graciously.
She likes geography, “because it’s our world and understanding our place in it.”
Questions ranged from national to international, starting with “Trade winds often create clouds below the summit of Pele’s Kilauea crater in what state? (Hawaii)” and “Delaware Bay separates the State of Delaware from which state to the northeast? (New Jersey).”
The first round was difficult for many but they had another chance. Questions continued to “Last August there was a total Solar Eclipse across the United States from west to east. What was the first state in which it appeared? The state borders California. (Oregon).”
The questions evolved to require maps. Looking at highway routes remaining students were asked, “If you leave California on Highway 80 east, and hit the Great Basin, what state are you in? (Nevada)”
The remaining group of competitors became smaller and smaller. Finally, only two were left, Elijah Quick and Kuntz, both 8th graders. Tension was high. The students that filled the common area to watch and encourage were very polite, waiting for the proper moment to applaud.
There would be three questions to determine the winner.
The first question was: “Iowa and Missouri both share a long boundary with what state on the Mississippi River? (Illinois)”
Both students answered correctly.
The second question was: “Amelia Earhart went missing in 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe with her navigator Fred Noonan. National Geographic sponsored an expedition to Nikumaroro to search for them. The island is north of the Fijis and located in what ocean? (The Pacific)”
Both students answered correctly.
Question 3 was: The Seikan (Seikan Tonneru undersea) Tunnel links Hokkaido with what other Japanese island? (Honshu)”

Neither student knew the answer. That permitted a new question to determine the winner.
Gilbertson asked, “What is the small and most densely populated country on South America’s Pacific coast? (Ecuador)”
Only Margot Kuntz got the answer correctly.
When asked if her love of geography is related to a desire to see the world Kuntz said, “I love traveling!” Her dream destination? “Europe,” she said without hesitation. “It’s got lots of countries. I like the history.” She goes on to take a test.
The top 100 ranked students in each state qualify to represent their school in the State level Bee, held on April 6, 2018. The designated state champions attend the national championship in Washington, D.C. from May 20-23, 2018.



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