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Students prepare for State Geography Bee

April 08, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

All the world is a test today for six Washington County students participating in the State Geography Bee.

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Jordan Kisiel, Michael Wagner, Eric Watts, Jason O'Neal, Melvin Osborne and Lindsey Hayes will be among 100 students quizzed on the earth's features, from continents to coasts, capitals and countries.

But the competition at Towson State University covers more than the physical aspects of the globe. Students also will be asked historical, political and cultural questions in eight rounds beginning at 1:15 p.m.

"I'm hoping I'll do well," said Jason O'Neal, a Smithsburg Middle School seventh grader. Jason has been studying Atlases and other books with his parents, Deborah and Douglas O'Neal.

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"I like knowing where things are," he said.

Social studies is his second favorite subject.

All the county's elementary and middle schools held a school geography bee last year. Each school identified a champion and a runner-up.

In January and February, the champs took a 70-question written exam from the National Geographic Society, which grades the exams. The top scorers go on to the state competition.

It is a tough test with hard questions, Supervisor of Social Studies Ed Koogle said. The students agreed.

"Some of the questions were about countries I've never heard of," said Jason. "Some of them I just had to guess."

For example, what river flows from its source near Lake Baikal across Siberia to the Laptev Sea? That's one of the questions from a past competition, and the answer is the Lena River. But such questions don't bother the students.

"I like learning about other cultures," said Melvin "Chuck" Osborne, a seventh-grader at Clear Spring Middle School. He said he's been reading old geography and social studies textbooks with his parents, Melvin and Deborah Osborne.

Lindsey Hayes, daughter of Edwin and Suzanne Hayes, said geography is one of her favorite subjects. "It helps you understand what's going on in the world," she said. The Fountain Rock Elementary School fifth-grader is the only elementary student in the county who qualified for the state bee.

Eric Watts, an eighth-grade student at Western Heights Middle School, said geography relates to other subjects. "To know about history, you have to know about geography," said Eric, the son of Christopher and Carol Liedahl.

Michael Wagner, an eighth-grade Northern Middle School student, is the son of Matthew and Bernadette Wagner. Jordan Kisiel, a seventh-grade student at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, is the son of Joseph Kisiel.

After today's oral exam and tie-breaking round, 10 finalists will go on to Stephens Hall for the final round at 3:45 p.m. State winners go on to the National Geography Bee to be held in Washington on May 24 and 25.

The National Geographic Society created the national bee in 1988 to bolster student knowledge. This year's top prize is a $25,000 college scholarship and a trip to Australia.

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