What's a Geography Bowl?

Having never previously been around a geography conference, I was awfully startled when asked if I could facilitate the geography bowl. "The geography what?", I said in confusion. Little did I know that included in the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL) Conference that was held at the University of Maine Farmington would be one of the most epic geography bowls I have ever seen (okay, maybe it was my first). The fierce competition included the University of Connecticut, Salem State University, Bridgewater State University (who brought the EarthView to UMF), University of New Hampshire, Clark University, and Plymouth State University.  

For those of you, like myself, who may be unaware of what goes on at a geography bowl, check it this Geography Bowl Question from a different competition. As you can see, it gets pretty intense. 





As for the judges, they were selected for their extensive knowledge in everything that is geography. As you can tell, they are a pretty menacing bunch. It was also interesting to see them laugh and chuckle about the questions and the responses that all of the students had. 





Pictured here are from left to right: Matthew McCourt, Paul Frederic, Brad Dearden

As everyone arrived for the competition, most schools seemed to be pretty nervous for the event. Because these events are only held twice a year, and the regions generally compete with the same schools each time (not quite the Ohio State and Michigan rivalry, but you get the point). So as usual, these school were ready to either reclaim glory or establish themselves as premier geography bowlers. Prior to getting started, I was very curious as to what kind of questions these students would be receiving. In the back of my mind, I figured they'd be "where is this on the map" or "where's Waldo?". Little did I know, questions would range from international currency to questions about geothermal energy.





As you can see, everyone was on edge before the competition (not really). Just to make sure everyone had enough brain food, we made sure there was enough pizza to feed an entire geography bowl army.






As the Geography Bowl began, everyone switched their brains from what type of pizza they would indulge in to geography, geography, geography. While some teams had coaches that were helping them along with the process, others just had teachers there to be moral support. Some had a teams of just four members while others had a alternate competitors that would switch in and out during the rounds of competition. All of the teams gathered in the main auditorium to discuss rules and regulations, and as soon as everyone was clear on what what going to happen, the competition was on!

As you can see, things got pretty crazy during these competitions. The bowl consisted of four rounds, with the top two teams advancing to the finals. Just like an academic decathlon or family feud, members of the team could press their respective button to answer a question. And by all accounts, buttons were being pushed left and right!


All in all, my first Geography Bowl was a rather exciting one. Games came down to the last question, players were screaming and yelling, and above all else---everyone had fun. Even though I consider myself a smart person, I couldn't believe how intelligent some of these students were. As my eyes would start to cross when thinking about the answer to a particular question, most of them were clicking their buttons and answering it as if the question was "what's 2+2?" Coming away from the competition, I learned a lot and had a blast watching the competition unfold (as did everyone else who participated). But even in geography, there are winners and there are losers, so here it is---congratulations to the Clark University Geography Bowl Team for their victory over Salem State University in the University of Maine Farmington Geography Bowl!



Our Mission

The mission of the Maine Geographic Alliance is to expand and improve geographic education from Pre-Kindergarten through University by assisting educators with high-quality geographic materials, lessons, and workshops for implementing Maine's learning results. 



Maine Geographic Alliance
Roberts Learning Center
UMF Campus
270 Main Street
Farmington, Me. 04938 

(207) 778-7443

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