The Regional Office of Education #33 has been hosting the Knox County Geography Bowl since 1996. The Silas Willard Geography Bowl Team, led for the past 20 years by Silas Teacher, Huong Hua, took first place in the elementary division this year.
The team works hard, beginning in November; they meet once a week after school to prepare for the bowl. According to Hua, "Each student receives a Go Bee book as a reference. The students get a list of questions then they have to find the answers to them. The students also pair up to do research on different regions of the United States and then present the information in a slide show format to the rest of the team."
Hua believes it is important for the students to stretch their minds and know about places outside of Galesburg and beyond. When questions from the students arise, they work as a team to discuss how to solve it. For example, if a question is asked about the largest desert in the world, the team works together to decide how to answer the questions. Hua says, "These kids are like sponges, soaking up all the information and wanting to know more."
The students all enjoy being part of the team. According to 5th grade student, Sawyer B., "I like the competition. I really enjoy Ms. Hua as my coach. It's just really fun!" Hua says the best part for her is watching the students burst with excitement about learning, "It is worth a million dollars for me!" The students are supportive of one another and the returning students help train some of the newcomers.
The days leading up to the competition can be exciting and sometimes the students are anxious about the big day. Hua says, "We all get nervous before any competition, to be honest, I am more nervous than the kids. We know we are competing against some amazing teams out there. Before the competition began, I told the students to have confidence in themselves, to display good sportsmanship, no tears win or lose, to focus and to enjoy the experience. I also told them that it is like riding an academic roller coaster at an amusement park. You go up and you go down, and in the end, you have fun!"
Prior to the geography bowl, the students invite their parents to come compete against them, according to Hua, "it helps to take some of the jitters out."
Congratulations to the Silas Willard Geography Team and Ms. Hua!