For the fourth year running, home schoolers from Blue Hill, Brooklin, Penobscot and central Hancock County tested their knowledge of the land, features, and inhabitants of the Earth in a competitive geography bee held at the Blue Hill Library on January 4.
“This is a fun opportunity to show off your knowledge about the world,” said Pat Horton, librarian for Youth Services, who played host for the bee. “Your first instruction is to relax.”
Brandon Aponte, a 12-year-old out of Brooklin, won for the third straight year, missing only one question out of 16 questions in three rounds of competition.
His winning answer? Chile, in response to the question: The Yaghan were a nomadic tribe indigenous to Tierra del Fuego, an island group that is divided between Argentina and what other country?
The National Geographic Society sponsors the bee for fourth- to eighth-graders across the state, with the winner given a written test to qualify for the state-wide bee in the spring.
Ten students competed in the homeschooler bee, a jump up from the six who entered in 2012.
The first few questions focused on the geography of the United States, with competitors choosing an answer from two choices. Then, as the questions became harder, with no multiple choices and world geography thrown in, the field began to narrow.
“Take a deep breath,” said Horton.
A round of physical geography questions had competitors choosing answers between choices like geyser or lava? butte or fjord? moraine or delta?
Each correct answer, given within 15 seconds, earned one point, with the four students who collected the most points moving on to the second round.
A three-way tiebreak determined the fourth person to advance. Liam Brennan of Penobscot correctly named South America as the continent where the Pampas region bordering the Atlantic Ocean is located. Brennan continued to a second-place overall finish.
The youngest competitor, Colin Aponte, age eight, came in fourth place, with correct answer after correct answer, falling at the end of the second round after misnaming the state the Salton Sea near the Imperial Valley is located. It is California, and of the four competitors left in the second round, only Brandon Aponte gave the correct answer.
Aponte said he uses National Geographic books to study and looks at maps.
“I love maps,” he said.