Josie K and Ishika M. , Staff Writers

The history of the GeoBee Competition

The GeoBee was developed by the Geographic Society in 1988 to promote geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. The GeoBee is an academic competition for public schools, private schools, and homeschools in the United States, its territories and the Department if Defense Dependent Schools.(DoDDS) The bee, held every year since 1989, is open to students in the fourth through eighth grades in participating schools from the United States.

This is what others think about the geo bee:

Mrs. Graves, L.A and Core teacher for 6th grade: I think that it is great because bgeography is one of those things that people forget about over the years, so it great that they are making it a fun competition.

Next, is my good friend and member of newspaper club, Paula Martinez:

I think it’s kind of cool that students get to experience these types of contests, because it helps them learn more at these topics that kids aren’t normally interested in. Next is another member of newspaper club and a friend of mine, Lola Martinez: ( Lola and Paula aren’t sisters)

I think it was fun but also difficult, because in the past years we haven’t learned that much. I also think that it’s important to participate in it because it’s important to learn about the earth’s geography.

The Structure of the GeoBee (Rounds, prizes, etc.) Josie

The competition begins at the elementary school and middle school levels (4th grade – 8th grade) and usually occurs in November, December, or January. This competition requires at least 6 people to enter. Private, public, and homeschooled students are allowed to enter. Typically, between five and six million students are entered each year (any number of competitors may enter this competition). The two major stages in this competition are called the preliminary and the final stages. Often, the preliminary competition is further split into preliminary rounds and a semi-final. In the event of a tie, a tiebreaker round is held at the end of the preliminary rounds.
Contestants are awarded 1 point per question. At the end of seven rounds, players with the top ten scores advance to the finals. In addition to the game, a player may ask for a repeat of a spelling during these rounds. However, they are restricted to only asking twice in duration of the entire geographic bee.

Quite often there is a tie, in which case a semi-final tiebreaker round is needed. For example, if six players finished the preliminary rounds with eight points and fifteen finished with seven points, the six who finished with eight points automatically advance to the final competition. The fifteen with seven points move into the semi-final round where the top four are determined to fill the remainder of the seats in the finals. This is done by asking every player the same question at the same time and giving each player twelve seconds to write down the answer. Each question is automatically repeated twice. Everyone reveals their answer at the end of the twelve seconds and players are eliminated on a single-elimination basis. If, using the above example of four open seats in the finals, there is a question where eight players are left in the semi-final round and three players get the question right, those three advance to the finals. The other five who got the question wrong will continue with the single-elimination procedure to determine which competitor will take the last open seat in the finals. A player cannot ask judges to spell or repeat words in the semi-final round.
In the preliminary rounds, competitors are divided into groups of twenty and each contestant is asked one question from each of the seven themed rounds. Categories include:

Cultural Geography
Economic Geography
Across-the-Country, Around-the-World
Geographic Comparisons
Physical Geography

The final competition consists of two parts: the final round and the championship round. Each of the ten finalists starts with a clean slate and is eliminated after two incorrect answers. This continues until the number of contestants drops from ten to two and a third-place finisher is determined. A player is not officially eliminated until the end of a series of questions, since if all but one competitor makes their second miss in that round, all the players stay in the competition. Again, a player may ask for a spelling or repeat on any question, but only once per question. Earlier in the round, questions may require oral answers or written answers from all the competitors at one time. Quite often, many of the earlier questions in this round contain visuals as part of the question, such as maps or pictures. Question examples in the past have included pictures of state quarters with the name rubbed off and maps of the US with national forests shown and numbered. Contestants, at the time, were given the name of the national forest and (he or she) must match states with trees. At the national level, competitions may include items such as flags, musical instruments, hats, and even live animals. After a certain round, all questions must require oral answers only.

If there is a tie for the championship round or third place, there will be an elimination round. For example, if four players are left and three make their second mistake, the fourth advances to the championship round and the other three enter the tiebreaker. The moderator will then ask each of the three players, at the same time, to write their answers to the same question. In this special round, questions can be repeated by players but they cannot ask how to spell a given word. As a result, if one of three responses are correct, he or she will rise to the championship round and the other two will move to the tiebreaker round until a third-place winner determined.

In the championship round, both players start with a clean slate again. The moderator asks both contestants the same question at the same time, repeated twice, and both players have fifteen seconds to write their answer. Both players then show their answers and each player who wrote a correct answer receives one point. There are three questions in the championship round. The player with the most points at the end is the champion. If both players are tied at the end, the competition enters the championship tiebreaker round. The rules are the same as for the championship round, except that the last player to answer a question incorrectly is the runner-up.

Whoever wins the school championship will do a a qualifying test to see if they have enough geographic knowledge to advance to the regional competition. For further information on the more advanced rounds go to

An interview with Mrs. Joy about the GeoBee

Q: What has shocked you in all your years of teaching the geo bee?

A: Several years, impressively and surprisingly, there have been fifth graders who have one the entire school GeoBee.


Q: Is there a student in certain you are proud of for getting through the geo bee?

A: One year, there was a boy who really didn’t think that he would do well in the competition, and then when he advanced through the levels, he was really shocked, excited, and proud of himself making everyone around him, including Mrs. Joy really happy and excited as well.


Q: How long have you been participating in the geo bee?

A: Since the time Mrs. Joy has been teaching at Roosevelt, she has been helping out with the Roosevelt part of the GeoBee.


Q: Why did Roosevelt decide to participate in the geo bee?

A: Before Mrs. Joy started teaching at Roosevelt, there was a teacher named Mrs. Burr, who entered Roosevelt in the GeoBee, once she retired, Mr. Considine took over organizing the GeoBee for Roosevelt, and Mrs.Joy helps Mr. Considine run the GeoBee.


  1. What is the farthest a Roosevelt Student has gotten in the GeoBee?

A: Mrs.Joy is unsure, but once a student made it to, or past the regional competition which was quite far.


  1. What is your favorite thing about organizing the GeoBee in Roosevelt?
  1. It’s exciting for kids to do something different than we usually do and it’s a fun for the teachers.Kids learn more about geography and kids surprise other kids about how smart they are, and the championship competing against each other.


  1. How long has Roosevelt School participated in the GeoBee?
  1. She’s Unsure.


  1. Have any changes been made since Roosevelt first started participating in the

GeoBee and the 2019 GeoBee

  1. We piloted an app based competition but then they went back to their original format.


  1. What is the most memorable moment in Roosevelt GeoBee history?
  1. One thing remembered was that one student was really good, and everyone gave up, so he couldn’t compete and the others thought they had a chance. Also, it was down to two students and it was very long until one winne arised.