Rifle Middle School student has a geography bee in his bonnet
When it comes to geography, Mitchell Kosht may as well be nearing the summit of Mt. Everest.
Kosht has spent the past few months cramming every tidbit of worldly knowledge that will fit into his mind.
That knowledge will be put to the test today when Kosht, an eighth-grade student at Rifle Middle School, competes with 99 other fifth- through eighth-grade boys and girls in the state finals of the National Geographic Bee in Denver.
Kosht was the only student between Aspen and Parachute to qualify for the event.
“I’m guessing competition’s going to be pretty stiff,” said Kosht, 14, the son of David and Kim Kosht, of Rifle.
Last November, he competed against more than 500 RMS students in a schoolwide bee for a chance to compete at the state level.
After winning the school event, Kosht had to compete with winners from across the state by taking a grueling written test. The top 100 scoring students advanced to state.
Kosht will compete for a $100 1st place prize, plus a chance to advance to the national competition, to be held May 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C.
Winners from the 50 states and U.S. territories compete at the national level for a share of $50,000 in college scholarships, including a $25,000 1st place scholarship and a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine, along with cash and classroom materials.
The event, now in its 14th year, is moderated by Alex Trebek and televised nationally on the National Geographic Channel.
National Geographic created the competition as part of a multi-million dollar campaign begun in 1985 to improve the effectiveness of geography teaching and elevate the subject’s status in school curriculum. The bee attracts some 5 million fourth- through eighth-grade student participants annually, though no fourth-grade students compete in Colorado.
For now, Kosht is just excited about advancing to state. He had so much information swimming around in his mind early this week that he couldn’t remember any of the state qualifying questions. Since National Geographic doesn’t return graded tests or announce scores, he’ll never know just how he did.
He just knows he answered a lot of really hard questions.
Questions center on geography, but cover more than lines drawn on maps. Subjects include ethnic cultures, economics, religion, climate, population, political boundaries, and history.
“Which country has the northernmost capital city? Norway, Canada, Iceland or Finland?” reads one sample question.
“Iceland would be my guess,” he said.
Geography is one of his favorite subjects.
“He soaks all the information in,” said his eighth-grade social studies teacher, Randy Hesselberg. Kosht also pays close attention during “those boring lectures,” then says “thank you” when it’s over, Hesselberg said.
Hesselberg said Kosht has as good a chance as any other student at winning.
“It’s the luck of the draw kind of situation,” he said. A student can know the answers to all the questions leading up to his question, then be completely stumped, “just like in a spelling bee.”
Kosht said he’s had lots of help in preparing for the bee.
His dad, David Kosht, is a world history teacher at Rifle High School.
“That helps,” said Mitchell Kosht, adding that his parents “are very excited and have been very supportive.”
Last year’s state qualifier from Rifle, Ed Kreimier, now a freshman at Rifle High School, has been giving Kosht a few helpful pointers. Hesselberg also gave Kosht a stack of books and old qualifying tests to study.
“I’m just going to study as much as I can and see what happens,” said Kosht.
Oh, the northernmost capital city?
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