Annual National Geographic Bee

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National Geographic Bee

Our local homeschool community takes part in the National Geographic Bee every year. My kids have always been too young to take part until this year. I now have a fourth grader. Can you believe it? I’m paying more attention to this competition now than I did in the past because she’s the right age to join in. She’s not ready to participate in the competition yet, but she said maybe next year. That means we’re going to be watching this competition fairly closely and asking more questions to find out more about the competition so she can be as prepared as possible when she’s ready to take on the challenge.

What is the National Geographic Bee?

The National Geographic Bee is an annual geography competition organized by the National Geographic Society. Students in grades four through eight are eligible to compete every year. For many homeschoolers grade level doesn’t mean a whole lot, so I suggest paying attention to approximate age comparisons.

Every year, more than 4 million students from thousands of schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Atlantic territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands), Pacific territories (Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa) and the Department of Defense Dependents Schools participate in the Bee, including homeschoolers who organize their own teams to register.

Personally I find this competition to be a brilliant way to encourage kids to learn more about geography. It builds interest and excitement about geography too. This is one of the incentives I’ll be providing to my girls, along with some fun activities to help build a geographic knowledge base.

How Does the National Geographic Bee Work?

There are three levels of the Bee: school, state and national. School winners will take a qualifying written test, which is scored by the National Geographic Society. Up to 100 of the top scorers in each state or territory then take part in the state-level Bees. The 54 winners of the state Bees receive $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent their state or territory at the national finals, which are held each May.

I don’t know about your kids, but my oldest would be beyond thrilled to visit Washington, D.C. She’s wanted to see a Giant Panda for years now, and she knows there are some at Smithsonian’s National Zoo.


The national finals take place over two days. The preliminary round on day one determines the top 10 finalists, who win $500 and advance to the final round on the second day. The student who is crowned National Geographic Bee champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society including a subscription to National Geographic magazine, and a trip to the Galápagos Islands, courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

The second-place finisher receives a $25,000 college scholarship, and the student who places third receives a college scholarship of $10,000. Which are also amazing prizes and great incentive to learn about geography and the world in general.

National Geographic Bee 2017 Details

  • August 2, 2017 – Registration opens. $120 until December 21, 2017. Check or credit card payments.
  • October 2, 2017 – School Bee materials available for download.
  • December 21, 2017 – January 26, 2018 – Registration increases to $140. Credit cards only.
  • January 26, 2018 – Bee registration closes.
  • February 2, 2018 – Deadline for completion of State Bee Qualifying Tests.
  • April 6, 2018 – State Bees.
  • May 20, 2018 – May 23, 2018 – National Championship

Study Guides

If your kids are serious about participating in the National Geographic Bee picking up How to Ace the National Geographic Bee is a must have. This is the Fifth Edition, published in 2017.

Written by 2004 National Geographic Bee winner, and 2005 National Geographic World Championship Andrew Wojtanik, The National Geographic Bee Ultimate Fact Book will be another fantastic resource for your kids to help them on their journey to geographic mastery.

You can’t study for a geography competition without an atlas! The National Geographic Student World Atlas is another must have resource for taking on the National Geographic Bee, or any of your other world geography studies.

If you’re looking to stay a bit more local, then the National Geographic Kids United States Atlas is the way to go. Not only will you learn a ton about our country, but it will be great preparation for the Geography Bee.

Do some research on your next family vacation while getting competition ready with the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA. Learn more about the National Parks  and don’t forget, 4th graders can get into Federal lands free!

For younger kids who want to get a jump start on preparing for the National Geographic Bee in the years to come check out the National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas.

The younger crew can also take on the details of the United States with the National Geographic Kids Beginner’s United States Atlas.

No geography study is complete without a globe. Great visual aid for kids as they learn about the world and prep for the National Geographic Bee.

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