Grandview Heights sixth-grader boning up on geography facts for state bee

Vivian Chute's knowledge of the world will go a long way in next month's state geography bee.

"The thing is, there are so many subjects in geography that the questions could be about, you got to try to cover as much as you can when you prepare," she said.

But another factor also is important.

"You have to have some luck, too," the Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School sixth-grader said.

The question she answered correctly in January to win her school's geography bee asked her to name the three states in which Cumberland Gap National Historic Park lies.

"I was lucky, because my family had recently gone there on vacation," Vivian said. "I don't think I would've known the answer if we hadn't visited the park.

"I'm never going to complain about hiking a trail again."

Vivian will put her knowledge to the test in a larger forum April 6 when she competes in the state geography bee at Ohio State University.

As a winner of a school bee, Vivian took a 75-question online qualifying test for the state bee. Only the students whose scores were among the top 100 qualify for the state event.

Winning the school bee "was surprising, but cool, too, because I was going against not just sixth-graders but seventh- and eighth-graders," she said.

"I thought I didn't have much chance to win because I thought the eighth-graders would have more knowledge and experience."

At Edison/Larson, two local bees are held: one for fourth- and fifth-graders, the other for students in the higher grades.

Her experience at last year's fourth- and fifth-grade bee taught her another lesson about the importance of luck, Vivian said.

"They asked me a question and I didn't know the answer, but I did know the answer to the question they asked the student sitting next to me," she said. "Sometimes, what place in line you have is important."

This year, participants in the grades 6-8 bee lined up by grade and by alphabetical order.

As first alphabetically among the four sixth-grade participants, Vivian received the first question during each round.

"It's both good and bad," she said. "The good part is that you get your question over with and you can relax for a while."

Vivian said she is preparing for the state bee the same way she got ready for her school's competition.

"I have some books that I review and try to memorize as much of the facts they have as possible," she said.

Those books include "Student World Atlas"; the official study guide, "How to Ace the National Geographic Bee"; and "The National Geographic Bee Ultimate Fact Book: Countries A to Z."

Vivian said she makes use of online resources as well.

"I love Wikipedia," she said.

Her favorite aspect of geography is learning about other countries.

"I just find it fascinating to learn about all aspects of other countries -- their culture, their currency, their people," Vivian said. "There are a lot of careers that relate to geography. Maybe I'd be interested in doing something where you deal with people in other countries."

The national parks also are a favorite subject, she said.

If she could visit any place on Earth, it would be Japan, Vivian said.

"It's so interesting and I like the diversity of the country -- there are mountains there that are so remote, but there are also big populated areas like Tokyo," she said.

She's trying to learn facts about as many places as she can.

"North and South America are easier for me, but a continent like Africa is harder -- it's just so huge and there are so many countries to learn about," Vivian said. "My friends say I have a good memory, but I don't know. I've been making some flash cards to help me learn the capitals and the currency and things like that."

Her father, David Chute, said he is proud and impressed with his daughter's aptitude for geography.

"The geography bee is challenging because the students have no idea what topic their question might be about," he said. "I was surprised at the variety. I guess I always thought geography was just about maps.

"I'm really proud that she is so interested and committed to such an important subject," he said.