Knowledge of countries’ histories helps Palenapa win Discovery geography bee

(CONTRIBUTED)
(CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – A solid foundation in social studies and history led Grace Palenapa to win the geography bee at Discovery Middle School. She now will advance to state qualifying rounds.

In the preliminary competition, social studies teachers question the seventh- and eighth-graders. Students who win for their class advance to the school’s geography bee, coordinator and history teacher Christine Jones said.

National Geographic Society establishes the contest guidelines. Students have 15 seconds to answer questions.

“Grace won by answering the most questions correctly,” Jones said. What was Grace’s winning answer? “I will not give you the exact question but I will say it had to do with one of the southern states and which French king it was named after.”

Whether a question is easy or difficult depends on the person’s opinion, Jones said. “I’ve read questions and thought, ‘There’s no way … any child would know the answer.’ The child (then) surprised me by answering correctly.” Conversely, students sometimes miss ‘easy’ questions.

“It really depends on prior knowledge the child brings to the contest,” Jones said.

The geography bee covers many more facts than classroom study. The bee “reinforces what we teach. Geography is more than where a place is located or what the name of a place is,” she said.

History, culture, politics and physical location all are components of geography. “That means the questions can cover what products a country produces, average rainfall, religion, type of government, native animals, diseases or natural disasters that are common to a country,” Jones said.

How can a person improve geography skills? Reading. Jones said reading improves a person’s knowledge of practically all subject matter.

“If I could give advice to parents about the best way to help their child succeed in school or in a geography bee, I would tell them to read to their child and to play games with their child,” Jones said.

Grace’s parents are Jay Palenapa and Yulie Palenapa. Grace has twin brothers. She is a member of Discovery Band and a swim team with Madison Swim Association.

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