On the map
LMS student competes in state geography bee
After competing for four years, Cullen Moriarty, Lansing Middle School eighth-grader, had one last chance to qualify for a state geography bee, and he succeeded.
He won his school's geography bee and scored high on a written exam, which led him to the state competition March 30 at Eisenhower Center in Abilene. He competed against 99 other Kansas elementary school students.
"He wanted to do this for a long time," said Kathy Ray, LMS gifted teacher.
She said Cullen came to her classroom each week to talk about the bee and how nervous he was. He also spent time in Ray's room preparing by using a geography bee study guide and game. Ray said LMS has done the geography bee for four years and only two students have qualified for state.
Cullen correctly answered four of the eight questions asked in the first round. He said a cumulative score is taken and the top 10 contestants move to the next round. He did not proceed to the next round.
Cullen's mother, Shana, said the bee was intense.
"They ask some far out questions," she said.
The geography bee isn't just about where rivers and mountain ranges are located, but about cultural and political topics. Cullen is an Army kid, his mother said. He was born in Germany and lived in six other states before moving to Kansas last year, she said.
"I think my military background and moving helps me learn about the area, historical features and things that go on in the region and state," he said.
"A lot of my friends at school, when they think of geography they think of where places are," Moriarty said. "When I think of geography, I think of where places are and what's there, how that country has been growing in the past years and its politics."
Ray said it was important to learn about other cultures, especially in the United States, which she said is ethnocentric.
"We live in a world that's becoming very flat," she said. "It's important for kids to learn about other cultures and to be good citizens," she said. "These kids on a daily basis will be dealing with other countries around the world."