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April 21, 2010 > 2010 California State Geographic Bee

2010 California State Geographic Bee

Submitted By Rupa Subramaniam
Photos By Manga Subramaniam

The 2010 California State Geographic Bee held at Cosumnes River College on April 9 was clearly, to any regular attendees, the most demanding competition during the 22 years since its inception. Preliminary rounds, which normally consist of eight questions regarding United States geography, physical geography, world cities and current events, even included rounds on sister cities and famous residences, this year. Normally, the first three rounds provide contestants with two answer choices; this year, answer choices were provided in the first round and reappeared in the fourth and fifth, distinguishing those students who may have lost confidence when faced with abnormally difficult second and third round questions.

And, as winner Alek Venturino can attest, the championship round proved a trial when the last two contestants both missed three questions in a row, before Venturino correctly identified the most populous city on the island of Hispaniola.

However, one aspect that remained constant in the 2010 State Bee was the excitement and enthusiasm of the audience and assurance, perhaps this year more than before, of a well-qualified California representative to the National Geographic Bee in May.

Dr. Stephen Cunha, announcer at the California State Bee and Professor of Geography at Humboldt State University, introduced the Bee experience to newcomers and veterans alike. In an enthusiastic morning monologue, he praised the 100 state qualifiers for their skill, considering that California, as the state with the most population, is the one most difficult for which to qualify. He proceeded to describe the benefits of geography and their application to the real world, and concluded by presenting a video by Google, one of the National Geographic Bee's chief sponsors, about the reasons why geography is so important. Finally, the director of Cosumnes River College expressed her appreciation of the talent of the 100 finalists.

The 100 state contestants were organized randomly into five separate rooms to conduct the preliminary rounds. After these rounds, the top ten scorers from the total 100 proceeded to the final round. However, often a tie must be broken to select the ten finalists, so a tiebreaker single-elimination round followed the preliminary rounds. Once the ten finalists are selected, the final round consisted of a double-elimination procedure to determine the last two finalists. The championship round followed in which three identical questions were given to both finalists who were required to write the correct response within 15 seconds.

This year, however, both contestants, Venturino and second-place finisher Danny Kim of Cupertino, answered the three questions correctly, so additional questions were provided to break the tie. The next three questions were all incorrect for both competitors. Finally, Venturino correctly identified Santo Domingo as the most populous city of Hispaniola, as opposed to Kim's response of Port-au-Prince. The nail-biting finish provided the audience with an appreciation of the skill required to advance to Washington, D.C. and an entertaining culmination to the morning event.

The 2010 California State Bee was certainly unique due to the various changes implemented, but this ensured that our winner would competently represent California in Washington, D.C on May 25 and 26. Although some contestants were disappointed by the sudden turn of fortune in the difficulty of the questions, this is a sign that American students are greatly furthering geographic knowledge and, as a result, forcing Bee organizers to step up their game as well.

Rupa Subramaniam is a Junior at American High School and tutors Geography after school at Thornton Junior High.

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