Photo: The 2009 National Geographic Bee finals in Washington, DC

The 2009 National Geographic Bee finals in Washington, D.C.

Photograph by Becky Hale

  1. What is the purpose of the National Geographic Bee?
  2. Who can participate in the National Geographic Bee?
  3. How do schools register for the Bee?
  4. How can my child be registered for the Bee?
  5. What if there are not six eligible students in the school or homeschool association?
  6. What materials are included in the school contest packet, and when is it received?
  7. How can students prepare for participation in the National Geographic Bee?
  8. What is the format of the Bee competition?

The National Geographic Bee, an educational program of the National Geographic Society, is a nationwide geography competition for U.S. schools with any grades four through eight, designed to encourage the teaching and study of geography.

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Bee registration is open to schools and homeschool associations with students in grades four through eight who have not reached their 15th birthday on or before September 1, 2013. A student must be enrolled in a school or homeschool association that is registered with the Bee. Also, students of the eligible grade levels must be following a school schedule and academic course load comparable to the majority of the student's grade-mates and age-mates. A student may not be enrolled in more than three academic courses at the high school and/or college level during each school year of the competition. A student is eligible to participate in the Bee for a period of five years only. We reserve the right to disqualify a student if we believe the rules have not been followed.

Schools from all 50 U.S. states, the U.S. territories, and the U.S. Department of Defense schools participate in the National Geographic Bee. Students enrolled in public or private schools may not compete as part of a homeschool association's Bee and, conversely, students who are homeschooled must participate through a registered homeschool association.

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In early September, principals may write a letter on school letterhead and enclose the registration fee of U.S. $100 requesting that their school receive the contest materials. Heads of homeschool associations (made up of support groups) may register to conduct a Bee for support groups in their area or county, in the same way. If there is no homeschool association in the area, we may allow an official support group to register and conduct a Bee for all interested homeschoolers in the county or area. The group is then registered with the Bee using the county name. Keep in mind that there is a minimum participation requirement of six students from the eligible grade levels in the school-level contest. Students, their parents and relatives must not have obtained, have had in their possession at any time, or have seen the contest materials. Please make sure that the contest materials are not mailed to a relative of a participating student. We reserve the right to disqualify a student if these rules have not been followed.

Mail the letter and registration fee of $100 (check or money order made payable to the National Geographic Society) to:

National Geographic Bee

1145 17th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20036

Faxed registrations are not accepted. Registration ends October 15 most years. You may call the Beeline phone number—+1 202 828 6659—after October 15 to see if any deadline extensions have been granted. Listen carefully to the message.

Once registration is closed, it is closed to all. NO EXCEPTIONS! We cannot be responsible for late, lost, or misdirected mail. So please make sure your information is complete, on time, and sent to the correct address (see above).

Once a school registration is received, there are no refunds. Schools may produce only one school winner, so make sure the school principal registers only once. If a school registers twice and receives two packets, no refund will be given.

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Individual students, individual homeschooling families, and support groups may not register for the National Geographic Bee. Students must be enrolled in a school or homeschool association that is registered with the Bee, and they participate through the contest held by their school or homeschool association. If there is not a homeschool association in an area, we may allow an official support group to register and conduct a homeschooling Bee for homeschoolers in the county or larger area. Contact the Bee office at +1 202 828 6659. Contact your school principal or homeschool association and encourage them to register. Only school or homeschool association administrators may register their schools. Also, to hold a competition, there is a minimum participation requirement of six students (in eligible grades), and students must be present to compete.

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We are sorry but that is the minimum requirement for the school-level competition.

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Schools with proper registrations received by October 15 will be sent the contest materials packet in mid-November.

The packet contains everything a school needs to participate in the competition including an instruction booklet with suggested procedures, question booklet, a medal to present to the one school winner, and the qualifying test that must be administered to the school winner. (This test determines the top scoring one hundred students in each state who are invited to compete at the state-level competition. Individual scores are not released. Notification of qualification is sent by the second week of March to the teacher who signed the certification statement on the qualifying test answer sheet.)

If the registration deadline is extended past October 15, schools that register later will be sent their contest materials within three weeks of our having received the registration. A school should notify us at +1 202 828 6659 if it has registered and has not received the contest materials by the times mentioned above. The deadline for receipt of the school Bee winner's qualifying test remains the same.

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See the Study Corner area of this site.

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Registered schools hold their school-level contest following the eligibility rules and may use the suggested procedures contained in the school-level instruction booklet. The school is responsible for their school-level Bee. Each participating school produces one school winner.

A teacher administers the written qualifying test (included in the packet) to the one school winner. Only the answer sheet is returned to the National Geographic Society either in the envelope provided or in your own envelope to:

National Geographic Bee

1145 17th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20036

Tests received after the specified deadline will not be graded.

In early March the teacher who signed the qualifying test is notified by mail if the school Bee winner qualified to represent his or her school at the state level. The top 100 students (selected based on qualifying test scores) qualify to represent their schools and compete at the state level. Scores are not released, only notification as to whether the student qualified or did not qualify for the state competition. The notification includes information on where the qualified student is to report, the date, time, etc. This information is not given over the telephone.

State qualifiers compete in an oral competition at the state level, which is usually held in late March or early April. To compete, invited qualified students must be present at the state Bee on the assigned day and at the assigned time.

State winners are invited to National Geographic headquarters in late May to compete in the national finals for scholarships in the amount of U.S. $50,000, $15,000 and $10,000.

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