11-Year Old Sixth-Grader Wins National Geographic Bee

By Meera Dolasia on May 23, 2008

On Wednesday, 11-year old Akshay Rajagopal from Nebraska, triumphed over five million kids nationwide, to win the 20th annual National Geographic Bee Contest, held in Washington D.C.

Akshay, who was the youngest of the ten finalists, won with a perfect score - that is he did not get even one question wrong in the entire two days of the finals - only the second time that's happened in the 20-year history of the competition.

His winning question?

The urban area of Cochabamba has been in the news in recent years due to protests over the privatization of the municipal water supply and regional autonomy issues. Cochabamba is the third largest conurbation in what country?

The correct answer as you can see in the picture above, was Bolivia. However to answer that you had to know that 'conurbation' meant - in case you don't know like we didn't - a conurbation is an urban area comprising of a number of cities, that have merged to form one continuous urban area! While most of the country was probably stumped, 11-year Akshay didn't seem to even blink an eyelid as he answered the question!

Akshay, who has been fascinated with geography since he was five, spent the last six months studying geography textbooks and DVD's, to prepare for the competition. His efforts paid off with a $25,000 scholarship and a lifetime subscription to the National Geographic Society.

Second-place winner, Hunter Bledsoe from Alabama, received a scholarship of $15,000 U.S. Dollars, while third-place winner William Lee from Massachusetts, received a $10,000 U.S. Dollar scholarship. All three will be eligible to try out for team U.S.A., at the biennial (once every two years) National Geographic World Championships in 2009.

The National Geographic Bee was started in 1989 to address the concern that young Americans did not know enough about the world around them. Over the years, it has become extremely popular.  The competition, open to middle schoolers under 16, starts at the individual school level. The winner from each school then takes a test. The top 100 test scorers compete for one winner in each State. The winners of each State then get to go for the preliminary rounds, from which the top ten finalists are picked.  These ten then battle it out on a live television broadcast for the overall championship.

Test your geography knowledge by going to www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/ for a quiz that is updated daily by the folks at National Geographic.

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15 Comments
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  • angielea
    angieleaFriday, June 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm
    Those are hard!
    • squirrelgirl
      squirrelgirlThursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm
      I was a finalist for my school in the National Geographic Bee. I was the youngest finalist in my school.
      • angielea
        angieleaFriday, June 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm
        Cool!
      • coolguySunday, December 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm
        my friend's name is Akshay, and he is going in for the goegraphy bee at our school
        • mintshine
          mintshineSaturday, July 20, 2013 at 10:16 am
          cool
          • gfregeau
            gfregeauWednesday, June 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm
            wow impressive
            • izzysk8er
              izzysk8erMonday, April 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm
              wow. he's a really smart guy! congrats!
              • joel
                Mr. MunozMonday, February 27, 2012 at 11:58 am
                Fr- I wish I was like him so I could win the championship. I could be the best person in the whole world because I like it. I think it would be much better to win because it would make my mom and dad get more money. Er-The kid is so good at winning because he was so smart. I bet if I would win, I would get a bunch of money. The kid made his family happy because he won.
                • bay80808
                  bay80808Monday, March 26, 2012 at 1:58 pm
                  It's not all about money!!!!
                  • firstgraderocks
                    firstgraderocksTuesday, February 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm
                    Fr- I read your comment and thought, "If I was the champion, I would give my mom and dad money, too!" Er- You are right because if you are very smart, you could be the champion of the world.
                  • swirlylollypops
                    swirlylollypopsMonday, February 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm
                    coool! wish i could be like him... *sigh*
                    • fluffyman
                      fluffymanSaturday, February 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm
                      cool i wish i was him
                      • rubberbandrainbow
                        rubberbandrainbowWednesday, December 7, 2011 at 9:47 am
                        I don't think you won it...Just because you put up a weird character doesn't mean you won it. The REAL winner would use correct capitalization and punctuation, unlike you, of course.

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