Tipton student preps for Geography Bee

Published 9:22 pm Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Amber Jackson has the whole world—in her mind. Now she will take all that mind-power and put it to the test.

“I never thought it was going to be that interesting,” Amber said. “I didn’t know there was that much to learn about it. Once I learn one part, it makes me want to learn more.”

Amber, a student at Tipton Middle School, and four other Selma students will compete in the 2010 Alabama Geographic Bee on April 9 at Samford University in Birmingham.

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She can recall the names and locations of countries, capitals, large cities, continents, oceans, rivers, depressions, canyons, deserts, peninsulas, straits and sounds.

Plus, she can add what people live in each state, property or territory and the life expectancy of the people.

“She studied by regions, and she studied their population densities, major cities, land areas and landforms,” said Sherri Thomas, seventh grade world geography and civics teacher at Tipton Middle School. “She also used a lot of mental mapping. It’s a key technique that you’ll need to use to be successful in the geography bee.”

Picturing a country from memory, with all the states it borders, or oceans surrounding an island, is the best way to visualize all the learned information.

“It’s like she has to have a photographic memory of the areas,” Thomas said.

Before traveling to the competition, Amber has a lot of studying left to do.

“I’m eager to learn more because I know the other kids have been learning for more years than I have,” Amber said.

This is the first year she has entered the competition.

Learning the information came from a dedication to studying.

“I pay attention in class,” Amber said. “The books that we have here, I read them over when we have work to do. I also take the time to read over it again so I can have a better understanding.”

Most of her studying now is through online resources with daily quizzes. Thomas said Amber’s mother has reported Amber studying until 2 a.m. some nights.

Amber also has been reviewing since September and attending classes at the Selma School of Arts and Classical Education Center.

Learning how to read into the questioning is important as well.

“Most of the time, if you just listen to the question very precisely, you will find the answer in there if you just remember it,” Amber said. “If they said a river, you would just already know where the river is, and that would probably be the answer.”

Also traveling to the state competition are Modesty Obasohan, David Whitt, Myalexis Lane and Samir Freij. One hundred students will compete at the state level.

The winner for the state will receive a trip to Washington D.C. to represent Alabama in the national finals at the National Geographic Society headquarters May 25-26, and will receive $100 and an atlas.