Virginia middle-schooler wins National Geographic Bee

Wed May 21, 2014 2:57pm EDT
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By Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia middle-school student won the 2014 National Geographic Bee on Wednesday by identifying Equatorial Guinea as the country planning to build a new capital in the rain forest east of Bata.

Winner Akhil Rekulapelli, 13, of Ashburn, Virginia, beat out final-round rival Ameya Mujumdar, 11, of Tampa, Florida, who answered "Tanzania."

He bested nine other young whizzes in history, landmarks, cultures and climates in the finals to win a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands, among other prizes.

"Right now this is probably the biggest accomplishment I will achieve in probably 20 or 30 years," Rekulapelli, who also holds a tae kwon do black belt and plays first clarinet in the school band, said after his win.

The eighth-grader emerged from a field of 54 contestants to win the two-day bee at the National Geographic Society, moderated by television journalist Soledad O'Brien.

For the second-place finish, Mujumdar received a $25,000 scholarship. And Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, 13, of Hillsborough, California, won a $10,000 scholarship for finishing third.

With the other contestants eliminated, Mujumdar and Rekulapelli went head-to-head in a series of challenges.

Among them, both correctly answered "Argentina" to the question: "The discovery of a major shale oil deposit in the Vaca Muerta formation in 2010 has led to an expansion of oil drilling in the Nequen Province of what country?"   Continued...