“I remember the moment almost perfectly. The question was, ‘One of the major stops along the Pan American highway is the capital of Costa Rica. Name this city.’ The first words that came to my head were San Jose, so quick that I knew it was my subconscious. But I didn’t know the capital of Costa Rica. Oh, no. I started to panic. I saw the timekeeper silently count, three, two… ‘San Jose,’ I guessed. ‘Correct.’ I breathed out. ‘Most of the time,’ I thought to myself, ‘your (my) subconscious is right.’

            Soon after responding to that question, my son, Joshua Broome, placed third in the state of North Carolina for the 2014 National Geographic Bee. Joshua won the local HINTS bee and went to the state competition four years. In 2014, he placed third, and another year he was one of the top ten finalists. This year, Mark Bomfim, seventh grade homeschooled student, won the CHEA-HINTS homeschool competition on Saturday, January 6.

HINTS support group (Home Instructors Need Team Support) has been generously sponsoring the bee in the Charlotte area for over twenty years, paying the required school and registration fees, for area homeschooled students to participate in the bee.

My family has personally benefited from HINTS generosity. Because he is now in ninth grade, Joshua is no longer eligible, but I would love to see this opportunity continue to be made available to homeschoolers. Since this has been such a good experience for my family and others, I want to help publicize it so that more may participate. I took the following information from a press release for the bee.

This year, 2018, is the thirtieth anniversary of the National Geographic Bee, a geography competition designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. Thousands of schools around the United States and in the five U.S. territories are participating in the 2018 National Geographic Bee. The school champions take a qualifying test. Up to 100 of the top scorers on that test in each state will then be eligible to compete in their state Bee on April 6, 2018.

The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. Over three decades, 1,583 state champions have traveled to D.C. to participate in the finals and more than $1.5 million in college scholarship money has been awarded to winners of the competition by the National Geographic Society.

The National Geographic Society will provide an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for state winners to participate in the Bee national championship rounds May 20-23, 2018. The first-place national champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid expedition to the Galápagos Islands. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively. National Geographic will air the final round of the National Geographic Bee Championship in May 2018.

While the potential prizes may seem enticing, the thought of competing sometimes intimidates people. We’ve had several mothers and students express feelings of trepidation when considering participating in the local bee, possibly caused by watching the national bee on television. I tell parents that our local bee reflects our local homeschool community and is a much more relaxed environment. My son, Joshua, also initially felt intimidated.

“Knowing how I liked geography, she, (my mom,) signed me up, and then told me about it. Of course, I was happy, and being a very competitive person, I was eager to test my knowledge against other kids. However, I was only in the fourth grade and knew the contest was up to eighth graders. Secretly, I was sure I’d be horrifically embarrassed. To my surprise, I did not miss a single question until the tiebreaker questions in the championship round. I missed a question about where the Kunlun Mountains were.”

In giving advice to those who are considering participating in the bee, my son advises:

“The thing about geography is that, unlike biology or spelling, it’s really not just one subject. Geography is a compound word. Geo, meaning earth, and graphy, meaning to describe, so it is not just maps and places. Geography, and thus the geobee questions, can be about anything from religion to food to clothes to trains to drugs to politics, and anything else that has anything to do with a place; which, I found, is everything.

It, of course, is impossible to know everything, so you have to find out what National Geographic likes to use. A great way to do this is by watching and obtaining copies of past bees. Even then you can’t know everything, so I study what I feel like studying. Once you get the A, Bee, C’s down, (tallest mountains, longest rivers, biggest countries, etc.) then you really have a choice of what to study. I study where my natural questioning leads me.

Another great way to study is to find online and book quizzes. Two of my favorite sites for study are Triviaplaza and Sheppard software. Good books are: How to Ace the National Geographic Bee, The Handy Geography Answer Book, The Geography Bee Complete Preparation Handbook, Goode’s World Atlas, and Introduction to Geography. All are books that will expand your knowledge of the world and of the bee. If you are a newcomer to the bee, study hard. Use logic on questions you don’t know. And most of all, just have fun.”

The CHEA-HINTS School Bee is generally held the first Saturday of the year. If you think your student may be interested in participating in the 2019 bee, start preparing now and contact me at jeremiah3128@gmail.com. To qualify for the CHEA-HINTS School Bee, your student must be homeschooled in the fourth to eighth grades, and be a resident of North Carolina. We hope to see you next year!

Tiffany Broome has been homeschooling her three children from the womb, vowing to God that she would do all she could to teach them His way. Her oldest is a high school junior, preparing for college. She also has a high school freshman and a middle schooler. She has been married for over twenty-five years and enjoys spending time with family, hiking, traveling, and, of course, homeschooling.