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.

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

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

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