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Published December 15 2011

A world of smarts: D-G-F student sets sights on state geography bee

DILWORTH – Want to know what’s what and where’s where when it comes to rivers, bays or capital cities? Ask Josh Soma.

The Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton seventh-grader came out on top in the school’s geography bee Thursday, and will now have a chance to match map-savvy wits with other school winners from across the state.

About 190 students participated in the school event, part of a larger National Geographic Society bee. Soma and other school-level winners in the state will move on to the written test early next year, with the top 100 scorers competing at the state bee in March.

State champions go on to compete in Washington, D.C., in May, with the national champion winning a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.

Kerri Westgard, a D-G-F geography teacher who is also the state coordinator for the National Geographic bee, said the contest gets people invested in the subject matter.

“It brings an awareness to get kids excited about learning geography, and teachers and community members excited about the subject,” she said.

In Thursday’s bee, winners from various D-G-F classrooms squared off. Some questions were easy: Nobody had trouble figuring out which river runs through Minneapolis, St. Louis and Baton Rouge, La. Others left students scratching their heads about the location of the Finger Lakes region (New York) or which state calls Concord its capital (New Hampshire).

Soma won in the final round on a question about an area of the Gulf of Mexico. He said the hardest question was one about a nation on the South China Sea composed of more than 7,100 islands (the answer, which he missed: the Philippines).

He said he didn’t study much for the school competition.

“I guess I just got lucky,” he said, adding that he plans to study harder for the written test.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502