The Grade Blog

Sunday, Apr 06 2014 06:00 PM

Local students' foray into state geography bee ends short of finals

BY LAUREN FOREMAN Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

Rik Bose, a sixth-grader at Ronald Reagan Elementary School, finished one answer short of becoming a top-10 finalist Friday in the statewide National Geographic Bee championship at Fresno State.

He was one of two local students in the contest competing for the right to represent California at the 26th National Geographic Bee next month in Washington, D.C.

Rashya Anggaraksa, the other local contestant and a seventh-grader at Earl Warren Junior High School, completed four of eight preliminary rounds.

Rik completed seven rounds in a contest testing students' knowledge of borders, lakes, rivers and current events, among other geographical facts.

Moderators reduced a group of 100 contestants to 10 finalists, and then two, before Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, a seventh grader at Nueva School in the San Francisco Bay area, won.

It was his third state championship in the past four years, according to National Geographic.

He will represent California at the National Geographic Bee finals, May 19-21, at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington.

Rik and Rashya qualified for the state championship by winning at the school level, and then placing among the top 100 in the state in a written test.

Rik's mother, Piyali Bose, said many of the contestants participating in the contest were students in seventh and eighth grades.

She said now her son knows how much hard work is required to prepare for the contest.

"You need nerves of steel also," Bose said.

Students had 15 seconds to answer each question. The preliminary rounds whittled each group of 20 students to two finalists.

When asked the most challenging questions he heard in the bee, Rik recounted, without pause, three examples:

One required the 11-year-old to name the country located northeast of Lebanon that residents evacuated because of a polio outbreak in 2013.

"Syria," Rik correctly answered.

Another question, posed to a competitor, asked the student to name the water transporting system that allowed people of the Persian Empire to bring water down through well-like vertical shafts.

The answer -- qanat -- was not one Rik knew.

Rik's final question was: The Windward Passage separates Hispaniola from which other island country?

"My answer was Jamaica," Rik said.

The correct response is Cuba.

Rik said Friday's competition would not be his final attempt at the state championship and the national title.

"Now I know the base of the questions, how many rounds there are, what kind of questions they give," Rik said. "So I'll try to prepare on that kind of standard."

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