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September 17, 2014

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Love of geography propels elementary student to state bee

An Aggie Roberts Elementary School student beat out eight of his peers Jan. 16 to win a chance to participate in the state National Geographic Bee in April.

If Brian Ham was excited, it was hard to tell as he sat in his chair, showing only a slight, shy smile after Principal Sharon Karout placed his medal around his neck.

Brian is one of several students who has or will participate in a school-level geography bee from November through January. Students in fourth through eighth grade are allowed to participate.

After winning the school level, each student will take a written test. The top 100 will move on to the state bee.

Herb Thompson, a Del Webb Middle School teacher who works with National Geographic to coordinate education programs, explained the written test is necessary in larger states, where more than 100 students may participate. Nevada on occasion has had fewer than 100 students, though, so a student's chances of making it all the way are good.

The top student from the state bee will fly to Washington, D.C., to compete at the national level.

Brian's not sweating those details, though. He made it to this level through a sheer love of geography.

"I've always had an interest," he said. "I like learning about all the different states."

His mother, Kim Earixson, said Brian often watches the Discovery or History channels. The family hasn't traveled extensively, and she doesn't watch the channels much, so it's hard to say where his interest came from, she said.

"He really just likes all the information," she said.

To win the bee, Brian had to win his class competition, and then go against the other classroom winners Jan. 16, a contest held in front of all of the fourth and fifth grade students.

After a couple of rounds, Brian went head-to-head against Ryan Pappas. On the first question, Brian was able to provide an answer but Ryan was stumped, which made Brian the winner.

Every student received a prize for participation and showed their classmates they know geographic details most students their age don't think about.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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