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Stamford Fourth-Grader Geography Champ Knows His Way Around The World

10-year-old Max DeMarco is the winner of Stamford's Newfield Elementary School's National Geography School Bee. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Students who participated in the National Geographic School Bee at Newfield Elementary School in Stamford Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Over 100 people watched the Bee Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
From left, Peter Vlahakis and Max DeMarco in the final round of the competition. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

STAMFORD, Conn. — The tension in the auditorium at Newfield Elementary School in Stamford was thick on Friday afternoon as the two remaining students in the National Geographic School Bee dueled it out.

After answering the last question correctly in the final round, 10-year-old Max DeMarco was named his school’s champion.

Over 100 people in the audience -- made up of parents, students and staff -- clapped and cheered loudly for Max, who wore a wide grin.

During Newfield's competition, students had 15 seconds to answer each question. Some looked nervous while others appeared calm and confident.

Questions touched upon topics relating to states, countries, peninsulas, bodies of water, mountain ranges and oceans.

While students had to answer some questions verbally, for other questions, they were required to write their answers on a whiteboard.

But as soon as they answered two questions incorrectly, they were asked to leave the stage.

Finally, Max and Peter Vlahakis, a fifth-grader, were the last "men" standing.

In an interview when the Bee was over, Max, who is in the fourth grade, said he really enjoys geography.

“I like learning about the world and history usually has something to do with the world," he said, adding, "history is cool."

He said he began preparing for the Bee in September. “I have an app on my iPad that allows me to study questions,” he said.

Despite his interest in geography, however, Max said that when he grows up, he wants to be a football player.

“I’m a really sporty guy,” he said.

This is the third year that Newfield Elementary School has participated in the National Geography Bee, according to Karen Hart, administrative intern at Newfield Elementary School who runs the bee.

Hart said she plans to hold the competition every year. “It gives the children an opportunity to learn about the world we live in. They spend a lot of time studying for the competition, both in their own classes as well as on their own, and we are very excited about this."

According to the National Geographic Bee website, 11,000 schools are participating in this year’s Bee.

In December, all the fourth- and fifth-graders at Newfield Elementary -- about 220 students -- took part in a preliminary competition in their classrooms.

The winners from each class competition -- a total of 10 students -- advanced to the schoolwide competition.

As winner of his school’s Bee, Max will take part in the next level of competition, where he will be required to take an online examination to determine eligibility to compete in the state contest.

Each year, thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee, which is open to students in fourth through eighth grade.

The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject and increase public awareness about geography.

The Bee uses materials prepared by the National Geographic Society.

State competitions will be held Friday, March 31. The champion from each state is invited to compete in the Nat Geo Bee National Championship in Washington, D.C., from May 15 to 17.

The final competition will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel on May 19.

The winner of the National Geographic Bee National Championship receives a $50,000 scholarship.

For more information on the National Geographic Bee, click here.

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