Landon Brown, eighth grade student at Milbank Middle School, competed in the South Dakota National Geographic Bee April 1, on the campus of NSU in Aberdeen. In March, Landon was declared the local winner of the geography bee held for all sixth through eighth grade students in Milbank.
Local winners from across the state took an online test and the top 70 moved on to the state competition. “My goal was just to win the school contest,” Landon said. “I didn’t expect to make it to State.”
In preparation for the state bee, Landon spent time studying on his own and with his parents, Jennifer and Tim. “I looked at a lot at Google Maps and used the National Geographic Bee App.”
When he arrived at the state bee, he discovered it was a serious event, but that did not rattle him in the least. “A lot of kids were stressed out and nervous, but I really wasn’t.” His mother, Jennifer, further explained, “He always has a good attitude and takes things in stride. Whatever happens, happens.”
Participants were placed in five groups of 14 students for the initial round. The contestants were given eight questions each, which created eight rounds. If a student answered five or more correctly, he went on to a tie breaker round, and if he answered six or more correctly, he advanced to the finals.
Each round featured a different category such as animals, seas and rivers, the United States, or United States National Parks. Students were given 15 seconds to answer. Landon’s first question was a multiple choice question – Which state in in U.S. is divided into parishes instead of counties? “I got that one wrong, he said.” “The answer was Louisiana and I choose Maryland.”
Two types of questions were real stumpers for a majority of the students and knocked several out of the running for the finals. “One, we were shown a picture of an animal and had to to identify the country it was from. The other, we were shown a map with numbers all over it and had to give the name of the national park for a specific number.”
Landon ended his eight rounds on a high note by correctly answering his final question. “My last question was which country in South America has a deer that runs in zig-zag patterns?’ I guessed Argentina and I was right.”
In Landon’s group, nine students answered three of the eight questions correctly, including Landon; the top student answered 7 out of 8 questions correctly.
The 2016 South Dakota National Geographic State Bee winner was Owen Fink, a fifth-grader from Bridgewater-Emery Elementary in Bridgewater. He will represent South Dakota at the National Geographic Bee Championship in Washington, D.C. in May. The South Dakota bee was moderated by MHS alumnus Mark Comstock Jr., son of Mark and Linda Comstock of Milbank.
Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. Students in grades four through eight are eligible for the competition.