Education — Fifth-grade student Alec Love wins the competition, besting approximately 120 other students

By identifying Germany as the country in which Cologne is located, fifth-grade student Alec Love won at Dundee Elementary’s seventh annual National Geographic Bee Jan. 9.

Love answered the tiebreaker question to beat Brooke Zatterberg in the final round of the competition, which encompasses all the fourth- and fifth-grade students in the school.

Preliminary rounds were held in four different classrooms to determine which 10 students would advance to last week’s finals.

Competing in front of classmates and parents, fourth- and fifth-grade champions were determined before the two squared off in the championship GARY ALLEN - Tough question -- Brooke Zatterberg and Alec Love react to a question during Friday's National Geographic Bee at Dundee Elementary.

Zatterberg outlasted classmates Ashton Gunderson, Abbey Steffen and Lillie O’Loughlin to advance. Love bested Savanna Newton, Soren Nelson, Ruthie Carsley, Madyson Daniels and Massy Kahnamooian to win the fifth-grade crown.

Because social studies isn’t part of the current battery of OAKS state tests, fifth-grade teacher Mary Jane Bachmeier said there is only so much time she can devote to geography and therefore likes that the bee gives kids another arena in which to shine.

“The geography bee focuses on things that are not often noticed,” Bachmeier said. “It brings a new flavor to the educational arena.”

Fourth-grade teacher Reed Langdon, who has Zatterberg in his class, said that students had to do some outside work to learn areas of geography not covered in the regular curriculum.

“In fourth grade, a lot of our geography and history is Oregon related, it’s kind of where the standards are leading us,” Langdon said. “So for them to know all these countries of the world, they’re having to do some outside work. A lot of it is them studying on their own.”

Langdon said students went through about 150 questions in the preliminary rounds, most of which were about U.S. geography, and answered silently via a remote.

“They were so excited and it became really important for them to see how they competed against their peers,” Langdon said. “They were just super focused with the activity.”

Bachmeier has been especially impressed with Love’s attitude and demeanor, both in the classroom and at the bee.

“If he’s not getting it right, then he refocuses and works on it, yet when he’s getting it right, he’s not in your face about it,” she said. “It’s a really nice combination for a kid.”

Bachmeier said Love is so humble that she didn’t even know he was a standout wrestler until his father mentioned it at a parent conference. She watched him win his weight bracket Saturday at the Metro Classic Qualifier youth wrestling tournament and noticed the same qualities he displayed at the bee.

“He’s such an interesting kid,” Bachmeier said. “He’s very humble, but he’s also just super focused and I think that shows up dually in his wrestling and academics.”

Love will now take a test in order to qualify for the state geography bee this spring.

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