Sixth-grader Jackson Martz has won Cooperstown elementary school's eighth annual geography bee.
"It actually was the best geography bee we had to date," said Principal Teresa Gorman.
Gorman credits the success of this year's bee to a change in its format that was implemented this year.
The finalists in previous years were determined by in-class geography bees, with the top five finishers in each grade competing against one another in the finals. This year's finalists were determined by a geography test given to the fifth and sixth grade students, with the top five scorers in each grade qualifying to compete in the finals.
The fifth-grade finalists this year were Alexander Bohler, Michael Crippen, Phoebe Jones, Ian Quinn and Alexander Hascup. The sixth-grade finalists were Kara Gildea, Eric Kukenberger, Reed Porter, Jackson Martz and Alex Woeppel.
One of the reasons the change was adopted was to prepare the students to participate in the middle school geography bee, as a geography test is the method by which the finalists for the middle school geography bee are selected.
"When they transition into the middle school, that is how it's done," said Gorman.
Gorman also said that selecting finalists through the test produced very strong competitors this year, with even the incorrect answers showing the strength of the competitor's knowledge.
"The incorrect answers were close," said Gorman. "In every answer ... they were on the right track."
The test was devised by teachers Diana Garcia and Anne Killian Russo, from the questions used in the geography bee. The decision to switch from in-class bees to tests for qualification was made by Garcia, Russo, Gorman and middle school teacher John Brotherton.
The spelling bee questions are given to the school by the National Geographic Society, which runs the National Geographic Bee, which the CCS bee has the potential to feed into. The questions cover topics that include political geography, physical geography and regional resources. The answers are often in the form of a geographic region, such as a country, state, city or continent but can also be a geographic or natural feature. Students in the bee had to write down there answers on a white board in a certain amount of time.