Rishi Nair, a 12-year-old Indian American kid, was declared the winner of the 28th annual contests of the 2016 National Geographic Bee contests held on May 25 in Washington, D.C.
Making the contest historic was the fact that at the National Geographic Bee competition Indian-origin contestants maintained their dominance by sweeping all the top three slots. Saketh Jonnalagadda and Kapil Nathan were the other two young prodigies who won the second and their places respectively at the prestigious competition.
Indian-American students continued their dominance at the prestigious national bee competitions with seven out of 10 finalists made it to this year’s National Geographic Bee championship hailing from the community. This is the fifth consecutive year that an Indian- American has won the prestigious national tournament. Last year Karan Menon had won the competition. The 1st prize carried a cash award of $ 50,000, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an all-expenses paid trip to Alaska for a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic eight-day adventure.
A sixth grader at Williams Magnet Middle School, Nair, by winning the 28th annual event, will join in the National Geographic Sea Lion expedition, and will include a stop at Glacier Bay National Park, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Jonnalagadda, the 2nd prize winner, is an eighth grader at Stony Brook Middle School, earned a $25,000 college scholarship. Nathan, the 3rd place winner, is a sixth grader at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School who was also a top 10 finalists in 2015, earned a $10,000 college scholarship.
Nair, a sixth grader from Florida took top honors, beating a total of 3 million students from 11,000 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, U.S. Atlantic and Pacific territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools who had taken part in the 2016 bee. Earlier, the winners of 54 state-level competitions convened in the nation’s capital May 23 for a preliminary round to determine the finalists. Seven of the 10 finalists who competed for the bee’s ultimate prize were Indian Americans.
The final question, which clinched the win for Nair, was: “A new marine sanctuary will protect sharks and other wildlife around Isla Wolf in which archipelago in the Pacific Ocean?”. The answer was: “Galapagos Islands”. Nair, whose parents hail from Kerala, is the second Florida student to win the National Geographic Bee. In 2010, eighth-grader Aadith Moorthy of Palm Harbor was the national champion. Rahul Nagvekar in 2012, Sathwik Karnik in 2013, Akhil Rekulapelli in 2014 and Karan Menon in 2015 were the previous four winners.
The seven other finalists, which included Indian Americans Rishi Kumar, 10, of Maryland; Pranay Varada, 13, of Irving, Texas; Samanyu Dixit, 12, of Matthews, N.C.; and Ashwin Sivakumar, 11, of Beaverton, Ore., each won $500 for making it to the top 10.
The final round, moderated by humorist and journalist Mo Rocca, between Nair and Jonnalagadda consisted of seven questions. The eventual winner got off to an early lead by correctly answering “Switzerland” to the question, “The Gotthard Base Tunnel, expected to open in early June, will be the world’s longest rail tunnel. This tunnel is located in which country?”