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Elms College to Host Massachusetts Geographic Bee

CHICOPEE — On Friday, April 1, Elms College will welcome 100 elementary- and middle-school students and their families from across the state as the Massachusetts Geographic Bee comes to campus for the first time.

The event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Veritas Auditorium in Berchmans Hall at Elms. From 1:15 to 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to watch as the top 10 finalists compete and the winner is honored. The winner of this statewide competition will move on to compete in the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C., in May, where the grand prize is a $50,000 college scholarship.

Each year, thousands of schools in the U.S. participate in the National Geographic Bee, using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to inspire students to be curious about the world. The National Geographic Bee sponsors competitions in every state as well as the final nationwide contest.

“This is the second level of the National Geographic Bee competition, which is now in its 27th year,” said Sarah Duncan, the state bee coordinator for Massachusetts. “Bees were held in schools with fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state to determine each school’s bee winner.” The school-level winners then took a test and submitted it to the National Geographic Society; the students with the top 100 test scores in each state were invited to complete at the state level.

“The Massachusetts State Geography Bee is an exciting competition for students because they are competing against kids their age who love geography as much as they do,” Duncan said. “I think that the public will be in awe of the vast knowledge these students have about the world at such a young age. As an audience member, it is always fun to follow along to see how much you know.”

The state winner will receive $100, a copy of the book The National Parks, and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Massachusetts in the national finals, which will be held at National Geographic Society headquarters May 22-25. The national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the society, as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the Galapagos Islands to experience geography first-hand through close encounters with the unique landscapes and wildlife of the islands.

Throughout the day on April 1, geography-related stations will be set up on campus for competitors, family members, and the general public to visit. EarthView, a large, inflatable globe that people can go inside, will be installed in Berchmans Gym, as will a large world floor map from National Geographic.

“Attendees will have a fun-filled, geography-themed day,” Duncan said. “From traveling out to Western Massachusetts and navigating around the Elms campus to competing or watching the rounds of questions, to exploring EarthView and the giant traveling floor map of Africa — geography will surround us all day.”

This is the first time the bee will be held at a college or university. Elms alumna Arlene Kowal is co-coordinator of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, which holds teacher workshops on campus, and she felt that Elms would be a good venue. Other Elms alumni have been recruited to serve as timekeepers, scorekeepers, and tour guides.

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