Bee keys: Location, location, location

By Katherine Wartell

Logan Ebert spent more than 24 hours studying the geography books his mother bought him in preparation for the 2012 Kansas Geographic Bee at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library in Abilene on Friday.

It was the first time for Ebert, a fifth-grader at West Elementary School in Wamego, to participate at the state level. He was the youngest of seven area students to take part in the bee, which determined the student who would represent Kansas in the National Geographic Bee in Washington D.C. in May.

Students participating at the state level had already won their school’s individual bee and then placed within the top 100 in Kansas on a written test.

On Friday, the survivors were divided into five groups to conduct the preliminary round, during which each student was asked eight questions. The idea was for the top 10 scorers to continue on to the final round. The eventual winner was Ganesh Aruna, a student at Overland Trail Middle School in Overland Park. At the national bee, he’ll have the opportunity to win a $25,000 scholarship.

Five students scored eight out of eight points, securing their place in the final round, while several students scored seven points, qualifying them for a tie-breaker round, where five spots were available.

During the preliminary round, participantshad to distinguish the correct answer from options given for the first six questions, but they had to provide the answer on their own for the last two.

Because the bee is restricted to students between fourth and eighth grades, Ebert had only participated in his school’s bee once before. But on Friday, he answered seven of eight questions correctly during the preliminary round, to earn a spot in the tie-breaker.

Before beginning the questioning, Paul Phillips, the moderator in Ebert’s group and a professor of Geosciences at Fort Hays State University, told the group, “I have looked at the questions, and I wouldn’t be a winner.”

For his seventh question, Ebert showed his knowledge of mountains, correctly answering that the world’s third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga, borders Nepal. Ebert said that question was one of his toughest.

It wasn’t until the eighth round that Ebert incorrectly answered a question. 

Though he did not qualify for the final round, Ebert and his parents, Neil and Laura, were pleased with his performance.

Ebert carried a good-luck charm throughout the day, a small, wooden cross that he clutched while answering all of his questions.

Ebert said geography is now one of his favorite subjects in school. His other favorite subject is gym.

Six other local students also qualified for the bee and participated in the preliminary round. They were Joshua Schwartz, eighth grade, Susan B. Anthony Middle School; Zachary Culbertson, seventh grade, Manhattan Catholic Schools; Jacob Clanton, sixth grade, Woodrow Wilson Elementary; Cole Gritton, eighth grade, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School; Rachael Peterson, seventh grade, Riley County Grade School; and Trey Schmidt, eighth grade, Wamego Middle School.

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