2006 Geography Bee
by Beth Rowen
Bonny Jain wasn’t always a geography whiz. In fact, in his first geography competition, he placed second in his school. The eighth-grader from Moline, Illinois, has come a long way since that 2002 contest. He represented Illinois at the National Geographic Bee in May 2005 and won first place, taking home a $25,000 scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. It was his second consecutive appearance at the competition. He placed fourth in 2005.
After the field was narrowed to two finalists, Jain won by correctly naming the mountains that extend across much of Wales, from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel. Answer: the Cambrian Mountains.
The national geography bee was open to 55 contestants: one from each state, plus one apiece from Washington, D.C.; Pacific Territories; Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands; and U.S. Department of Defense schools. The final round, for the top ten finalists, was moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the popular game show Jeopardy! It was broadcast live on the National Geographic Channel.
Neeraj Sirdeshmukh, 14, from Nashua, New Hampshire, came in second. He won a $15,000 college scholarship. Third-place contestant, Yeshwanth Kandimalla, 13, of Marietta, Georgia, won a $10,000 college scholarship. The other seven finalists won $500 each.