Chandler students vied in geography bee - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler students vied in geography bee

April 26th, 2018 development
Chandler students vied in geography bee

By Colleen Sparks, Staff


A sixth-grader at Kyrene Traditional Academy is gushing about a globally-focused competition, where he got to meet other students who are crazy about geography.

Timotheos Mihalopoulos, 11, of Chandler, participated in the 2018 Arizona National Geographic State Bee in Tucson with about 100 other students, answering questions about geography.

Though he did not qualify for the national competition, Timotheos enjoyed the state event and wants to test his geographical knowledge again.

“Geography’s one of those subjects that not many students or even parents and adults really are good at,” he said. “I felt like the state bee was kind of, almost like surreal because we had all these kids who really loved this one subject. It just felt very friendly; very welcoming.”

Timotheos said he was asked many questions about current events, physical features, countries’ birds and other topics.

He said right away he knew which state has a higher elevation – Kansas or Montana. “I immediately knew Montana,” he said. “I studied so much that my brain kind of saw them on the map.”

He said his favorite subject in school is history.

“History teaches about the past, about the mistakes we’ve made and how we can fix them, and makes you feel more in this world,” he added. “You feel like you can make a difference, if you can do something and make history. History, it’s a very interesting subject.”

He said to prepare for the state competition he studied a map his mother, Nicoletta Fraire, bought him, as well as Internet sites and a National Geographic app on his phone.

“I had to study a lot,” Timotheos said. “I like that because it’s not about memorizing facts, I want to know why these things are called this or why they’re the most polluted city in the world. I want to know where they’re located, memorize everything about it.

“If you like something a lot you don’t have to have the best gear, the most professional. If you really like something, you have everything at your disposal; you just have to use it effectively.”

In order to make it to the state National Geographic competition, students had to first become champions at their schools and take a qualifying test.

Several other students at Chandler schools also qualified to participate in the bee.

Others who were eligible to attend in the Kyrene School District were Quintin Thompson, an eighth-grader at Kyrene Aprende Middle School; and Tyler Tisinger, a seventh-grader at Kyrene del Pueblo Middle School took part in the event.

They also included Brendan Higgins, an eighth-grader at Basha Accelerated Middle School; Christopher Ferreira, a seventh-grader at Arizona College Prep–Erie Campus; Benjamin Tung, an eighth-grader at Arizona College Prep-Oakland; and Austin Catlin, a sixth-grader at Knox Gifted Academy.

BASIS Chandler fifth-grader Arya Bhat also qualified for the state bee.

Catlin, 12, said his father “travels a lot and when he travels he comes home and shares all the things he did and what it was like.”

“I was really nervous at first at the state Geo Bee, but I calmed down pretty quickly once it got started,” Catlin said. “I made it to the 6th round out of 8, and felt pretty accomplished about that.”  

Fraire is proud of her son Timotheos.

“I thought it was a great experience for him…he actually had so much fun,” she said. “He was in good spirits. I really enjoyed seeing that and he’s learned a lot. He wants to promote the teaching of geography in school. He thinks there isn’t enough geography teaching in school. He’s become a believer.”

The National Geographic Bee is designed to inspire and reward students for being curious about the world. Students in grades fourth through eighth from 10,000 schools across the country participated.