WMU is again home to Michigan Geographic Bee

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Photo of a WMU sign.

The final round of the bee, beginning at 2:15 p.m., is open to the public.

KALAMAZOO—For the seventh straight year, some 100 budding geography buffs will descend on Western Michigan University's campus for the Michigan State Geographic Bee, testing their knowledge of the world while vying for a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Geographic Bee championship at National Geographic Society headquarters.

This year's event is Friday, April 4, and will bring the young semi-finalists from schools across the state and their families to the Fetzer Center's Kirsch Auditorium. This is the second level of the National Geographic Bee competition, now in its 26th year.

About the bee

Bees were held in schools with fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state to determine each school's winner. School-level winners then took a qualifying test, which they submitted to the National Geographic Society. The society invited students with the top 100 scores in each of the 50 states, District of Columbia, Department of Defense Dependents Schools and U.S. territories to compete at the state level.

The state competition, sponsored by Google and Plum Creek, begins with preliminary rounds at 12:30 p.m., followed by the competition finals at about 2:15 p.m., says Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook, WMU associate professor of geography, coordinator of the Michigan bee. The top geography student in Michigan will be selected from a field of 10 students who make it to the final round. The public is invited to attend the competition's finals portion only.

The state winner will receive $100, a compact world atlas and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Michigan in the National Geographic Bee finals to be held May 19-21 at National Geographic Society headquarters. The national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the society. The national winner will also travel, along with one parent or guardian, all expenses paid, to the Galápagos Islands, where he or she will experience geography firsthand through up-close encounters with the islands' unique wildlife and landscapes. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

National bee

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the society. 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.

National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild will air the final round of the 2014 National Geographic Bee, moderated by new host Soledad O'Brien, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, to be followed on public television stations. Check local television listings for date and time in your area.

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the member-supported society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference.

For more information on the National Geographic Bee, visit nationalgeographic.com/geobee.