Gahanna's Landon Fisher could identify all 50 of the United States when he was only 30 months old.
The current Columbus Academy first-grader competed at the U.S. Geography Olympiad o n June 1in Atlanta.
Stephany Fisher, Landon's mother, said he took an exam in February to qualify for the Olympiad.
"The required score to compete in Atlanta was a 25 out of 100," she said. "Landon got a whopping 72. Landon is 7 years old."
There were more than 640 students competing in the eighth grade and younger division at the Middle School and Elementary National Championships, and Landon was one of only three first-graders, Fisher said.
In preparing for the contest, Landon said he mostly studied books.
His mother said geography has been his passion since he learned to walk and talk.
"He mastered countries, capitals, flags and territories by 5 years old," she said. "He then became very interested in landmarks, history and culture and learned that by age 6.
"Qualifying for this exam has brought a whole new dimension to his geographic repertoire," she said. "He has to be able to interpret population graphs, maps in a foreign language, energy consumption maps, immigration, and has even begun to study a bit of geology."
She said her son's interest started with a jigsaw puzzle of the United States, which evidently lit a fire.
"We now have a house full of geography – atlases, globes, a flag collection, iPod apps and a lot more jigsaw puzzles," Fisher said. "His dad (Matt) likes geography. For him it started with collecting stamps as a boy. But Landon has left us far behind."
She said he loves Saturday adventures such as visiting an international grocery store, local ethnic restaurant or cultural event.
Fisher said Columbus Academy has been supportive, especially Bradley Henry, a middle school social studies teacher who has been Landon's mentor.
"He meets with him after school frequently to just talk geography," Fisher said.
Landon said he would like to become a geography teacher or archaeologist when he grows up.
Landon has a younger sister, Quinn, 5.
At the Olympiad, a different national champion was crowned in each of five age classifications: eight grade, seventh grade, sixth grade, fifth grade, and fourth grade and younger.
Prizes also were awarded for the top 10 finishers in each of the classifications.