Image: Various news headlines

Image courtesy NOAA

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One of the best "textbooks" for making geography relevant to everyday life is the daily newspaper.  The fundamental themes and concepts of geography are more easily understood when viewed in the context of daily events. And stories making headlines take on new meaning when viewed through the lens of geography.

Getting Started

Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each. Assign each group a world region and have the students read several major daily newspapers (either print copy or online) looking for current events occurring in the assigned region. Have each student keep a journal of the news stories read.

Once a week, have each group identify one important story they have read. Provide each group with an index card and ask them to record the following information:

i.       Location

ii.      Brief summary of the event

iii.     Geographic themes identified in the story

Post a large world map on a bulletin board. Have each group locate their news story using a push pin and attach their index card along the margin of the map.

Have each group lead a class discussion of why the story they have chosen is important; how it affects the people where it happened; and how it could affect people in the U.S.

Modeling the Activity

Toxic Spill in Hungary Contaminates Danube River

Location: Eastern Europe–Hungary

Summary: On October 4, 2010, a dam holding toxic heavy metals collapsed near the town of Ajka, Hungary, releasing a flood of red toxic waste water across nearby towns and fields. Just three days later the toxic water reached a branch of the Danube River.

Geographic themes: physical and human characteristics of place; human-environment interaction; movement

Extending the Activity

Assign one student in each group to research in other newspapers the story the group has selected and follow it to learn what happens over time. Additional index cards can be used to record important developments. As more stories are identified, a news web will emerge as each student follows a different current event.

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.

Registration for the 2015 Geo Bee has ended. Schools can register for next year's Geo Bee in August 2015.

School Geo Bees have all been held. Please mark your calendar for the upcoming State Geo Bee on March 27, 2015, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To find out the location of the State Geo Bee for your state, email us at

The national competition of the Geo Bee will be held May 11-13, 2015, at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. It will be televised on May 15, 2015, at 8 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel and NG Wild.

Gain a Global Perspective

The 2014 National Geographic Bee finalists gush about geography.

How to Help

  • Photo: Geo Bee Winners

    Fund a School

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

Winners' Video

  • geobee-2014-kids-990.jpg

    2014 State Winners

    Fifty-four of the nation's brightest young geography whiz kids gathered in Washington, D.C., last spring to take part in the 26th annual National Geographic Bee.

Student Activities

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

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    Exploring Diffusion

    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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    Tracking Violent Storms

    Springtime brings the possibility of extreme weather, including violent thunderstorms and tornadoes.

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