Deer Creek students wins geography bee, visits state Capitol, heads to D.C.
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Published: 07-Apr-2011

Perfection will send Deer creek Middle School eighth grader Soorajnath Boominathan to be among the 54 fourth through eighth graders competing in next month’s National Geographic National Geography Bee in Washington, D.C. After winning a statewide competition, Soorajnath visted the Oklahoma state Capitol this week

On April 1, about 100 students in each of the 50 states, D.C., U.S. territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools faced off during the National Geographic State Geography Bees.

Oklahoma Geography Bee Coordinator, Dr. Brad Bays believes the state’s 12-year-old champion has a good chance of taking the national championship. The student didn’t miss a single question throughout the competition held at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Alexander J. “A.J.” Wagner, an eighth grade student at Centennial Middle School in Broken Arrow, is the state bee’s first runner-up and Peter Hardt, a fifth grade student at Northern Hills Elementary School in Edmond is second runner-up.

The three students were introduced to Governor Mary Fallin at the state Capitol this week, after being recognized on the House Floor. 

During the state Capitol visit, Dr. Bays said Geography does not have a strong tradition in Oklahoma. “Geography doesn’t get the support other disciplines or social sciences receive,” he said.

The Oklahoma State University professor says Oklahoma only requires one class of “World Studies” in the seventh grade. 

Dr. Bays said were it not for the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Educators, Oklahoma would not have the strong curriculum development for teachers currently available, nor the small cadre of highly trained geography educators. He said, “Of course, with more support, things would be better.”

“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world in which geography is not emphasized,” said Bays.Champion Boominathan acknowledged that he feels some weight on his shoulders as he prepares to represent Oklahoma on the national level.

“Yeah, there’s a little bit of pressure,” He said. “But, I’m nervous. I’ve never been to D.C. before. So, I’m excited about that, also.”

National Geographic Geography Bee questions go far beyond identifying national capitals. Global climatology, politics, economics, history and current events are among the areas of knowledge needed to compete.

The question that made Soorajnath Boominathan the state champion: The second longest river in Africa that passes by the city of Kinshasa on its way to the Atlantic coast is _____? The correct answer is Congo.

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