MMS' Cannon Elliott Advances to State GeoBee

MMS' Elliott Will Compete in GeoBee Online
Posted on 03/11/2020
This is the image for the news article titled MMS' Elliott Will Compete in GeoBee OnlineFor each of the more than 20 years of participating save one, Martin Middle School has sent a contestant to the state level of the National Geographic GeoBee. This year will mark only the second time no one will be heading to Nashville.

Instead, the competition will be coming to Martin Middle and its winner Cannon Elliott.

In a letter distributed last week to MMS’ GeoBee organizer Dena Carter, the National Geographic Society stated that “due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Geographic Society has made the decision to shift plans for the state level and cancel the in-person events planned on March 27.”

The participants will still be allowed to compete but will use an online format, the letter shared.

“We are doing this out of an abundance of caution regarding COVID-19, and in order to prioritize the health and safety of everyone who attends our events,” they added.

Qualifiers like 12-year-old Elliott will join other fourth through eighth graders across the country in taking an online test on March 27, administered and proctored by the school GEoBee coordinator.

Designed to “inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world," the GeoBee is in its 32nd year. Preliminary rounds cover such topics as State Savvy, State Nicknames, Weird But True, World Civilizations, Cities Around the World, and Odd One Out (a category where one contestant is given three choices, plus a description. The contestant must determine which of the three choices does not fit.)

“We began this year's GeoBee journey in November by testing every student at MMS with 10 various world geography questions,” explained Carter. “After grading the quizzes and a tiebreaker round, there were 34 students who qualified to participate in the Preliminary Competition.”

That daylong competition took place on November 21 with Carter, a 6th-7th grade history teacher, and Krystle Smith, the school’s literacy leader, serving as presenters.
During this level of competition, each individual student was verbally given a geography question to which he or she had 15 seconds to respond.

“This year's GeoBee was more competitive than last year because we had four more students than normal in these preliminary rounds,” Carter noted. “I also had to use several of the tiebreaker questions to separate the top students.”

After the Preliminary Rounds, Smith and Carter totaled the scores which narrowed the competition to the Top Ten students. The following students qualified to participate in the Top 10 portion of the GeoBee: Lucy Oelrich, 7th grade; Scarlett Newsome, 7th; Sam Shelley, 8th; Will Borgens, 7th; Jack Mantooth, 6th; Thomas Baker, 6th; Addie Roberts, 8th; Bryson Boyd, 8th; Kyleigh Fishel, 8th; and Cannon Elliott, 7th.

Once Elliott secured the top spot, he took an online qualifying test which was submitted to the National Geographic Society to determine if he could proceed. Carter was informed in March that Elliott had earned the opportunity to continue to the statewide competition.
Elliott says he enjoys history and travel. His family has already seen 28 states.

But if given a choice he’d like to avoid all questions requiring naming a state or a country off the top of his head with no multiple choice items to prompt him.
Asked what stumped him in his journey toward state he easily quotes, “This state is known as the ocean state because of its 400 miles of coastland.”

Rhode Island is the answer, he reports.

“You always remember the one you missed,” offers Smith.
As the literacy leader, Smith sees many pluses in participating in the GeoBee because preparing depends on literacy.

“Literacy plays an important role in all subjects,” she points out. “Students gain information from reading history books, biographies, and other geographical resources. Many students are unable to travel so they receive knowledge for the GeoBee from reading.”

Carter agrees that the benefits go beyond the parameters of the contest.

““I believe that the GeoBee makes the students aware that the world is a much larger place than they think,” she noted. “I want the students at MMS to understand that they have a role to play in our town, county, state, country, and world.”

Elliott appears pleased to be advancing to the state level with or without the trip to Nashville. But when asked, he’s not anticipating securing the number one spot.

“It’s not that I’m not going to try,” he said. “I’m just not planning on being number 1. There are smarter people in the state.”

And for a rare moment his teachers find themselves in the place of correcting the young scholar.

“Cannon has yet to recognize his full potential,” Smith said.

“I’m planning for him to be number one,” Carter declared.

Carter, Elliott and SmithMartin Middle School teachers Dena Carter (left) and Krystle Smith support Cannon Elliott as he progresses to the state level of the National Geographic GeoBee. The annual geography contest is in its 32nd year. The state competitions in 2020 will be administered at the school using an online format as a cautionary response to concerns related to the coronavirus.