UM hosts International Academic Competition's Geography Bee

Posted at 8:12 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 11:35:40-04

MISSOULA — We are here in Big Sky Country. But in a matter of 30 questions, 45 elementary and middle school students went from Montana to Italy, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere in between, as the inaugural geography bee tested young minds.

The magic words… “that would be correct”. The key to moving on and moving up in the geography bee hosted at the University of Montana in partnership with the International Academic Competitions (IAC).

Although students are competing for a spot at nationals in June, Founder of IAC and Jeopardy star, David Madden, says these kids are learning about so much more.

“Geographic education often gets short shrift," said David Madden. "In the American education system is rarely taught as a standalone course. But it's so important for an understanding of what's going on in the world.”

In times like this, it is important to understand world geography. A war in Ukraine, ban on Russian oil, and Afghans fleeing from their country. All these world events have implications on us. So, understanding where these take place is an important part of the geography bee.

“Look at just Russia and Ukraine," Madden told MTN News. "The kids who are playing today not only know those countries, but they know where they are on the map. They know their cities and they can make sense of the conflict over there because of what they know about geography.”

And for three Kalispell Middle School students, geography means more than just pressing the buzzer to victory.

“You learn about like cultures and stuff and like when orders move, you know what country that is and what is,” said Spencer Lee, a Geography Bee participant.

His friends and competitors, Oliver Casey and Griffin Ingersoll, agreed. Adding that geography is important so you can understand different cultures and engage with others.