Asia’s most densely populated country has about 3 million people in less than 250 square miles. Name this country.
Twelve-year-old Alex Kerchner of Kirkland, Wash., knew the answer and that made him the champion Wednesday at the National Geography Bee.
The correct answer - Singapore - gave Kerchner victory over 56 other finalists and more than 5 million students nationwide. He also won a $25,000 college scholarship and a life-time subscription to National Geographic, the magazine that sponsored the contest.
It was the fourth time that Alex, a seventh-grader at Kamiakin Junior High School in Kirkland, had made the geography bee finals. He scored among the top 10 last year.
What gave him the winning edge?
“Persistence paid off,” he said. “You have to keep trying, looking at everything until you get it all together. You just have to keep trying until you make it. I did it for four years and I finally won.”
But it wasn’t easy. Alex hesitated, then asked for a repeat of one question. “The term ‘eolian’ refers to physical features that have been shaped by which agent of erosion?”
He then provided the correct answer: “Wind.”
“I always seem calm, but I really am nervous,” he said. “I didn’t give up.”
Education Secretary Richard Riley, who helped distribute the awards, said the geography competition, now in its ninth year, “helps us raise national education standards.”
“Geography is one of the core subjects for us to consider,” he said.
Placing second and taking home a $15,000 scholarship was Steve Sreckovic, 14, an eighth-grader at South Milwaukee Middle School in South Milwaukee, Wis.
His incorrect answer to the tie-breaking question concerning Asia’s smallest and most densely populated country was Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a British colony, not a country. It reverts to China this summer.
Winner of third place and a $10,000 scholarship was Justin Mosel, 14, an eighth-grader at the Orchard Public School in Orchard, Neb.
Alex, the champ, said that while geography may not interest all of his peers, “I study geography because I want to.”
He thanked his father for his support. “He’s the one who asks the questions and helps me study.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Sample questions Some questions confronted by young scholars Wednesday at the National Geography Bee: 1. According to the theory of continental drift, all of Earth’s landmasses were once part of what supercontinent? 2. Although Yamoussoukro was designated the capital of Cote d’Ivoire in 1983, most government functions still take place in what coastal city? 3. The “K” in K2, the world’s second highest mountain, stands for the name of the range in which the peak is located. Name this mountain range. 4. Name the national capital that is a major port on a strait that connects the Kattegat with the Baltic Sea. Answers: 1. Pangaea. 2. Abidjan. 3. Karakoram Range. 4. Copenhagen.
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