Hampton 8th-grader wins state geography bee
Winning the 2015 National Geographic Bee's state competition was a dream come true for Hampton Middle School eighth-grader Tejas Badgujar.
“I was pretty excited since it was my first time,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.”
The 13-year-old took the state geography bee title on March 27 in Harrisburg. Daniel Krill, an eighth-grader from Pine-Richland Middle School, took second place.
Tejas' mother, Snehal Badgujar, said she was nervous watching her son go up against school champions from across the state. She and her husband, Sunil, and Tejas' younger sister, Saisha, traveled with him to Harrisburg to watch him compete.
“I was kind of nervous during the competition because he worked really hard to get to the top four,” Snehal Badgujar said. “But it was really exciting when he won.”
The winning question was “What country includes the islands of Melville, Mornington and Bathurst?” Tejas correctly responded with “Australia.”
He will move on to compete against state winners from across the country in the National Geographic Bee preliminary round on May 11 in Washington The final rounds will air on the National Geographic Channel at 8 p.m. May 15.
The geography bee quizzes students on more than just cities and locations. Tejas said questions also cover culture; climate; geopolitics; physical geography; and things such as festivals that are held in certain countries, local foods and dishes, and even native animals.
He practices by constantly reviewing atlases and books. The family has a library of more than 100 geography books in their home, his mother said.
“He reads a lot, and that's how he got to this level,” Snehal Badgujar said.
Tejas said he has been interested in geography since he was little. Understanding geography opens up a person's understanding of the cultures and places around them, he said.
“Geography is all about our world, and most people don't know much about the world,” Tejas said.
For winning the state competition, Tejas received an atlas, $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition. If he wins the national competition, he will receive a trip for two to the Galapagos Islands, a $50,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.
But Tejas said he doesn't do it for the money. He does it for the prestige, he said.
“I do it just to be proud that I have the title of National Geographic winner,” Tejas said.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.