By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Being a contestant in the Minnesota Geography Bee could be an intimidating experience for most eighth graders. But not Little Falls student Aaron Hanson. This is his third time competing against 99 other middle school students who qualified for the affair of honor.
Hanson said he took an interest in geography early in his life.
“In second grade I knew all the capitals of the United States,” he said. “In sixth grade I qualified for the first time to the state level and tied for 11th place.”
Hanson said he qualified for the state level again in seventh grade, but didn’t finish as well as the previous year. This year may be different.
Hanson beat out 550 other Little Falls students who tried out this year for the top position at the middle school.
“Only 100 students qualify to compete at the state level,” said Hanson. “Each school’s winner must take a written test. Only the top 100 are chosen to go to St. Cloud.”
He said the written test is harder than the first two rounds at the State Bee.
Preparation for the tournament includes playing geography games on his smart phone and playing Trivia games at home.
“The questions we get are just luck of the draw,” Hanson said. “It could be about any place in the world on any subject.”
Questions may include the nicknames of the states, country rankings in different areas or major exports of a nation. It’s not just about mountain ranges, rivers and capitals.
“Two years ago, I was stumped when asked where the sugar producing area of Mexico was,” he said. “It’s hard to be confident with a topic list of 40 – 50 subjects.”
But, if he wins, Hanson will go to Washington, D.C., and participate in the National Geographic Bee May 20 – 22, against one student from each of the 50 states plus the territories and possessions of the U.S.
The Bees are sponsored by Google, National Geographic and Plum Creek, one of the largest landowners in the nation.
Hanson said that in the past, the state competition has had a local news anchor as a moderator and expects one again this year from KARE 11 News.