An elite group of Excelsior Middle School students were abuzz with activity last week, preparing for the school's second annual Geography Bee contest. Seventh-grade English and history teacher Ben Foley organized this year's contest in tune with Excelsior teachers' expressed desire to heighten students' interest in geography.
Research shows that with the rise in global communications, shifting geopolitical relationships and evidence of environmental change, the field of geography is experiencing a renaissance in the United States. More elementary and secondary schools now require courses in geography, and the College Board is adding the subject to its Advanced Placement program. Businesses looking to enter new markets or assess environmental issues are also looking for employees with expertise in geography.
In light of these developments, institutions of education cannot afford to ignore geography. We want to harness the students' competitiveness in knowing geography and make them more aware of the events in the world we live in by way of current events and political issues, said Foley.
The Geography Bee's top honor went to eighth-grader Ashley Martin. Danielle Bower-Smith took second place and Jared Turner was the third-place champion. First prize means honor, recognition and a trophy, said Foley. Ashley will send a written test to National Geographic and a chance to go to the state finals.