The next place on the map that Willow Canyon sixth-grader Josh Treybig will be studying is Washington, D.C. Treybig bested 101 other contestants in the state finals of the National Geography Contest, giving him a trip to the nation's capital to vie for the national title.
A student at Willow Canyon Elementary School in Sandy, Treybig said he studied old geography contest questions, flash cards and maps and watched the news and read newpapers to prepare for the competition.His studying paid off during the state competition in the Scera Center Friday when he answered correctly the question, "Name the mountain system created by the subduction of the Nazca plate." (For those unfamiliar with the area, it's the Andes.)
"This is like the biggest thing I've ever won," Treybig said. He said winning his school competition gave him the confidence he needed to stay calm during the finals. To keep focused and cool, Treybig said his secret is perspective.
"I don't think of the audience as strangers. I think of them as my best friends," he said. "This feels so great."
Peter D. Howe, a seventh-grader from Wasatch Junior High School, Salt Lake City, placed second in the competition. Third place went to Daniel M. Jensen, an eighth- grader from Centennial Middle School, Provo.
The contest is open to students in the fifth through eighth grades and to all public, private, parochial or home-schooled children in that age range.
State coordinator Sheila Powell said that although this year's competition was fairly typical, the questions seemed a bit harder. She also was pleased to see an increase in the number of girls making it to the state level. Of the 102 contestants, 13 were girls. Scipio resident, Joy Lisonbee, a seventh- grader at Fillmore Middle School, was the only female to make the final 10.
"I'm really proud of her," said Celeste Lisonbee, Joy's mother. "She had no special programs, no encouragement from teachers. She is self-motivated." In retrospect, what upset Joy the most was, like other contestants, she really knew the answer to the question she missed. She lasted through the fourth round.
Some contestants found the final questions quite simple. Sixth- grader Tyler Nielson, who failed to make the final 10, said, "I think the final round was easier than the preliminary." He said he wants to come back next year and try again. A number of the contestants were there for the second or third time. There were siblings competing against each other, and brothers and sisters of former winners hoping to follow in their footsteps. All contestants must win their own school's geography bee to advance to the state competition.
As for those who would like to compete in future geography contests, Powell said the most important thing to do is, "Read, read, read. You don't know where your next answer is going to be."
The National Geographic Society launched the National Geography Bee 10 years ago. The winner of the national contest will receive a $25,000 scholarship and an all-expenses paid vacation to Hong Kong. Utah has never had a national winner, but four years ago the state winner placed fourth.
The competition came about because of concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. Sylvan Learning Centers co-sponsors the event.