It's bee season in our Nation's capital. That time of year when a young, unathletic child's fancy turns to thoughts of beating the knowledge crap out of kids from across the U.S.
The famous Scripps Howard Spelling Bee isn't until next week, but today National Geographic held its annual fact-off finals. 11-year-old Akshay Rajagopal of Lincoln, Neb. walked away with first and the $25,000 scholarship after correctly answering this question posed by quiz-master Alex Trebek: Cochabamba is the third-largest conurbation in what country?
Last year, Caitlin Snaring of Redmond won the big money, becoming the first girl in 17 years to do so. I was in the audience stringing for another Seattle paper while finishing graduate school and noticed something about the way she handled the questions. Snaring told me the day before that she studied by creating voluminous, color-coded notebooks. During the finals I noticed that she took longer than other competitors to answer questions, but didn't seem as flustered as they did when they were fishing around for the answer. That's when I saw her eyes moving back and forth--she was actually reading the notebooks, locked in her head by a picture-perfect memory. It was an impressive sight to see. I don't know how much a photographic memory will help her later in life, but it was pretty cool to watch.
If you want to match skills with Rajagopal, Snaring, and other past winners, quizzes and questions are here.
The answer from this year's winner: Bolivia.