Utah Teen Takes 13th At National Geographic Bee

May 20, 2014

Gauri seemed like your typical 13-year-old; she attends Bear River Charter School, she loves swimming, ice skating and skiing; she has a smile that lights up the room and she aspires to be president of the United States and a doctor one day.

But she isn’t your average teenager- she has a knack for geography. Gauri placed 13th in the National Geographic Bee on Monday.

The bee is a competition for fourth to eighth graders to test their knowledge in geography, according to Prafulla Garg, Gauri’s mother.

“Even the history eventually boils down to the geography of it,” Prafulla said. “They do have the map round, sometimes they bring in these exotic animals and ask you where they're from, or they’ll have someone dance from a certain country, so it’s the culture behind that country.”

Gauri explained how she came to represent Utah in the bee.

“There are different levels, it first starts out with a school bee,” she said. “If you win that than you take a written test and they get a hundred people from every state to compete at the state level. Then after they have a state winner, they go to Washington, D.C. and compete in the national level.”

Gauri said she has read extensively to prepare for the competition.

“It takes a lot of reading,” she said. “You don’t just have to read maps, you have to read about the culture of the countries and there is some history it in and physical geography.”

After her older brother Varun Garg got his start, Gauri said she became interested in geography.  

“When he was in the fourth grade, he almost won his school bee,” she said. “Then we started getting seriously into geography and I’ve always had my hopes of winning.”

Varun, who is just one year older than Gauri, went on to win several school-level National Geographic Bee titles and did well in the state competition. Because of his knowledge about geography, he helped her study for the bee.

She said she started getting even more passionate about geography in the sixth grade. When she wasn’t in school, she practiced geography for up to six hours a day. 

“In the sixth grade, I got eighth place at state," she said. "After that I really wanted to win state and this year I won." 

With her broad knowledge of geography, she said there are a lot of places around the world that she would love to travel to, particularly Antarctica.

“I really want to go to Antarctica because I like the penguins,” Gauri said. “From pictures I’ve seen, it looks really pretty with the glaciers.”  

Gauri is the first girl in 26 years to win the state level National Geographic Bee and she is the first representative from Cache Valley.