A Shakopee eighth-grader advanced Monday to the finals of the 27th annual National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C.
Shreyas Varathan and the 53 other kids, ages 10-14, were tested on their global knowledge in hopes of capturing the top prize, a $50,000 scholarship and a trip with a parent or guardian to the Galápagos aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.
Varathan, who attends Shakopee Area Catholic School, is now among the 10 finalists who will pit their worldly wits against one another Wednesday.
The question Shreyas correctly answered in a tiebreaker to earn the top 10 berth was: "Name the peninsula in present-day Turkey, on the northern side of the Dardanelles, that was the site of a hard-fought campaign during World War I." Answer: Gallipoli Peninsula.
The 14-year-old's official bee profile notes that the coolest place he's visited is Cancun on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, and he dreams of someday visiting Italy and the Amazon rain forest. He won the state geography bee in late March.
Wednesday's title round will be moderated by TV journalist Soledad O'Brien. "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek moderated the bee for 25 years, from its inception in 1989 to 2013.
The championship round from the Washington Plaza Hotel airs on the National Geographic Channel at 7 p.m. CDT on Friday and again on Nat Geo WILD at 6 p.m. CDT on May 20.
For Wednesday's competitors falling just short of championship glory, second place is good for a $25,000 scholarship and third place wins a $10,000 scholarship.
The 54 finalists were representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Atlantic Territories, Pacific Territories and Department of Defense dependents schools. Nearly 4 million youngsters began the effort to reach the national competition.
There has been one national champion from Minnesota. Nathan Cornelius, a home-schooled seventh-grader from the southwestern Minnesota town of Cottonwood, took the honors in 2005.
Last year's champion was Akhil Rekulapelli, of Virginia, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn. The winning question was: "The discovery of a major shale oil deposit in the Vaca Muerta formation in 2010 has led to an expansion of oil drilling in the Neuquén province in what country?" Answer: Argentina.