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Colorado Geographic Bee Comes to DU

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Nicole Gordon

Cooper Hanley, 2016 Colorado State Champion.
Cooper Hanley, 2016 Colorado State Champion.

One of the oldest universities in the world, al-Azhar, was founded in the tenth century and still exists today in what present-day capital city located near the Eastern Desert?

The correct answer is Cairo. On March 31, 100 of Colorado's top geography students in grades four through eight will gather in Sturm Hall to test their knowledge with questions just like this. The winner of the Colorado State Bee will qualify for the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

Organized by the National Geographic Society, the competition is intended to inspire and reward curiosity toward the world. Students from 10,000 schools across the nation compete for a chance to win college scholarships.

DU's Department of Geography & the Environment has hosted the competition for the past 15 years. The collaboration involved with this event embodies the aspirations outlined in DU IMPACT 2025, the University’s strategic plan, which calls for engagement with the community and collaboration with schools across Colorado.

"For more than two decades, we've partnered with the National Geographic Society in supporting geography education throughout Colorado," says Michael Keables, department chair. "We are excited once again to host this year's competition."

"Hosting the Bee and seeing first-hand the enthusiasm and mastery of these students is truly inspiring," says geography professor Hillary Hamann. "In today’s globalized and interconnected world, geographic knowledge is more important than ever."

Hamann and a volunteer team of faculty, staff, and students are providing support for the Bee, which counts 80,000 students from 235 schools throughout Colorado as participants this year. The champion from each school completed an online geography test to qualify as one of the state's 100 top finalists.

Vice Chancellor Lili Rodriguez will open the competition with a brief statement at 9:00 a.m. Andrei Kutateladze, dean of the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, will introduce the final round at 1 p.m. Moderated by Amelia Earhart of 9News, the final round consists of the top 10 competitors and is open to the public and media.

Housed within the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, the Department of Geography & the Environment offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in both geography and environmental science, with courses ranging from hydrology to urban sustainability, climatology, geographic information systems, and more.