WASHINGTON - Eight students from Maui schools have qualified to compete in Friday's state competition of the 2009 National Geographic Bee.
They are: Ilena Burk, grade 5, Kamehameha Schools Maui Elementary School; Juleen Flory, grade 7, Lahaina Intermediate School; David Gilbert, grade 4, Emmanuel Lutheran School; Jonathan Ibanez, grade 6, St. Anthony Grade School; Carly Kiaha, grade 6, Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle School; Ashley Krost, grade 4, Kula Elementary School; Micah McDonald, grade 6, Doris Todd Memorial Christian School; and Danika Wilson, grade 6, Kalama Intermediate School.
The contest to determine Hawaii's representative in the national event will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. The preliminary rounds begin at 9 a.m. and the final round is scheduled at 11:15.
The competition, for 4th- through 8th-graders, started at the school level in November, and those winners took a written test to qualify for the state contest.
This year, 63 students qualified for the Hawaii competition.
Except for the state qualifier, the competition is oral.
State winners receive $100, the "National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World" and a trip to Washington for the national finals on May 19-20.
First prize in the national competition is a $25,000 college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and a trip, accompanied by a parent or guardian, to the Galapagos Islands with "Jeopardy!" quiz show host and National Geographic Bee moderator Alex Trebek and the "Jeopardy!" Clue Crew.
Qualifiers from the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools also will compete.
The Bee is organized by the National Geographic Society, and this year's state sponsors are Google and Plum Creek.
The National Geographic Bee was developed in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States.
A National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study showed that Americans 18 to 24 still have limited understanding of the world.
Even after Hurricane Katrina, one-third could not locate Louisiana, and almost half could not locate Mississippi on a U.S. map. Only four out of 10 were able to find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
Visitors to the Bee section of the National Geographic Society Web site can hone their geography skills by checking out the new GeoBee Challenge online game. The site is at www.nationalgeographic.com/geographicbee.