By John McGurl
When we think of a “Geography Bee,” questions about rivers and the highest mountain ranges may come to mind, but what a lot of us tend to forget about geography class is that it’s not just about landscapes. The annual National Geographic Geography Bee (NGGB) reminds us that geography also is about culture, history and even the politics of the world’s regions, as 14-year-old Maya Patel can tell you.
The eighth grader from Liberty Middle School in Tampa Palms is headed to the NGB National Championship in Washington, D.C., after beating out 99 other students at the State NGGB competition in Jacksonville on March 30. The trivia competition is for students from grades 4-8 who are under the age of 15 and is open to students from all 50 states. Maya will be proudly representing the Sunshine state, as well as the New Tampa community, at the National event.
Maya not only beat the 99 other students from all over Florida at Jacksonville University, but also 1,100 students from Liberty. She attributes her success to her parents and their love for traveling. When Patel won at the State level, she was awarded $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to our nation’s Capitol.
She says she is now studying for the National level round, which will be held on Thursday, May 24, at the headquarters of National Geographic magazine. Maya will have the opportunity to meet the moderator of the event, host Alex Trebek of TV’s “Jeopardy” game show.
The Tampa Palms resident says she also enjoys music, dance, and playing chess in her free time. The Neighborhood News will update you as as soon as we find out how Maya fared at the NGGB National Championship.