Larsen qualifies for state Geographic Bee

Sam Larsen, a fifth-grader at Scandia Elementary, receives his medal and certificate of achievement from fourth-grade teacher Jack Severson, adviser for the Scandia Geography Bee. This is Sam’s second consecutive year to qualify for state.

Sam Larsen, a fifth-grader at Scandia Elementary, receives his medal and certificate of achievement from fourth-grade teacher Jack Severson, adviser for the Scandia Geography Bee. This is Sam’s second consecutive year to qualify for state.

For the second year, Sam Larsen will compete in the Minnesota State Geographic Bee.

Bees were held in schools with fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state to determine each school’s winner.

Larsen won the Scandia Elementary contest last year as a fourth-grader and again this year as a fifth-grader.

After winning at the school level, he took a qualifying test that was submitted to the National Geographic Society. Both years, his score was in the top 100 in the state, making him eligible for the state competition.

The 2014 Minnesota State Geographic Bee will be held at St. Cloud State University on Friday, April 4.

Larsen said last year’s Minnesota Geography Bee, hosted by Alex Trebec, of “Jeopardy,” was a good experience for him.

“It was fun,” Larsen said. “I made it to a playoffs round for the last 10 spots, but I didn’t make it into the top 10.”

To prepare for the questions, he reads a lot of books about geography and history. The Washington County Library’s Hardwood Creek branch in Forest Lake is his main source of books, he said. He finds some books on the shelves and also requests titles he’s interested in reading.

There’s one thing he would like to change this year.

“My goal is to win at state and make it to nationals,” he said.

The state winner will receive $100, the “Complete National Geographic on DVD” and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Minnesota in the finals at the National Geographic Society headquarters, May 19 to 21.

The national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Galápagos Islands and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

On Thursday, May 22, National Geographic Channel will air the final round of the national competition, moderated this year by Soledad O’Brien.

The National Geographic Bee competition is in its 26th year.

The contest is sponsored by Google, which owns the Google Earth virtual globe, map and geographical information program, and Plum Creek, a private company that owns 6.4 million acres of U.S. timberlands.

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