WMS Student Qualifies for Geography Bee Nationals


Alexandra Ingvoldstad

8th grader Ethan Brooks will participate in the National Geography Bee this summer.

Westside Middle School 8th grade student Ethan Brooks has qualified to go to Orlando, Florida for the National Geography Bee competition this summer. 

In order to go to the competition, Brooks had to qualify for the regional level and place in a top spot to move on to Nationals . In his case, Brooks said that he placed second because of his long-time interest in geography. 

I got interested in geography when I participated in my 4th grade geography bee, and I started learning about it,” Brooks said.

According to Brooks, the different levels of the geography bee differ in format, which was something to get adjusted to.

 “I have participated in the geography bee in the past,” Brooks said. “It was different in that the regional competition was more of a quiz bowl format with you having to buzz in to answer the questions, as compared to rotating who answers the questions and when it’s your turn you try to answer the question. It was also digital as opposed to in person.”

Excellence in Youth Coordinator Dr. Lynn Spady said that, in the past, National Geographic has sponsored the bee However, this year they did not, which was something the EY programs had to find a solution for.

“There are 2 factors that have impacted the competition compared to previous years,” Spady said.”  Yes, COVID did play a part, but the major change was that National Geographic no longer sponsors the Geo Bee. The EY Team had to look for another option for the Geo Bee, and the IAC (International Academic Competitions) provided us with a feasible solution as well as the addition of a History Bee and a Science Bee.”

Learning geography is something that students find a passion in, Spady said, and can be beneficial to their academic and social life.

“Everyone has their ‘thing’ when it comes to interests and talents, including dancing, acting, playing a sport, quiz bowl, speech and debate, and more,” Spady said. “Geography knowledge isn’t the end-all be all, but those students who enjoy it have many opportunities. In addition to a variety of career options, students who participate in the Geo Bee have an opportunity to interact with other students interested in the same thing and it may even provide opportunities for students to earn prizes and scholarships in the future.”