Photo: Students create map.

Photograph courtesy National Geographic Studio

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Geography is fun when kids get involved in “doing” geography. A great way to begin the school year is to plan an activity that engages students in:

  1. asking geographic questions
  2. collecting and organizing data
  3. analyzing the information gathered to answer the questions they raised

Conduct a Survey

a) Prepare a brief questionnaire based on how students travel to school each day. E.g., walk; bicycle; family car; school bus; public transportation.

b) Include other questions such as how far away each student lives, how long it takes to get to school, and what grade each student is in.

c) Once the data has been collected and sorted, an effective way to present the information gathered is construction of graphs. When students learn how to construct graphs using simple data, they will be more successful in interpreting data that is presented in graphs.

d) Help students analyze the patterns in the data as revealed by their graphs.

Map the School Neighborhood

a) Using butcher paper or poster board, make several simple grids with the school building in the center. Include the streets or roadways that run near the school.

b) Take students on a walk around the school grounds and have them work in groups to add buildings, houses, and large vegetation to the map. Encourage students to use symbols rather than drawing pictures of what they see.

c) Ask students to observe and record patterns and volume of traffic on the streets or roadways near the school.

d) Reinforce maps skills by reminding students to complete their maps with a title, a key, and a date.

e) Help students analyze the patterns in the data represented on their maps.


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School Registration

Join 11,000 schools and participate in this year’s National Geographic Bee. Get a notification to alert you when registration opens in August.

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About the National Geographic Bee

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to inspire students to be curious about the world. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging competition.

The national championship preliminary rounds took place on Monday, May 23, in Washington, D.C. The national championship final rounds featuring the top 10 finalists and moderated by humorist, journalist, and actor Mo Rocca were held on Wednesday, May 25, at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

The national champion receives a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a Lindblad expedition to Southeast Alaska provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

Watch the 2016 National Geographic Bee Finals

The National Geographic Bee aired on the National Geographic Channel on Friday May 27, and may still be available via streaming services. It is also airing on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.

Meet the 2016 Champions

National Geographic Bee contestants aren't just geography geniuses. They're also savvy park planners! See where they would create a National Park in their own state.

Host Mo Rocca interviews the Top 10 Finalists on stage during the 2016 competition.

How to Help

  • Photo: Geo Bee Winners

    Fund a School

    Donations help fund schools to participate in the National Geographic Bee.

Student Activities

Teachers can use these activities in the classroom to prepare students for the bee!

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    The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.

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