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Neelam Sandhu is all smiles as she stand by the National Geographic Bee sign for her preliminary round room Monday at tne Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. (COURTESY)

Bee finalist

For Bedford girl, exploring the world in geography bee a ‘great thing to do’

BEDFORD — Neelam Sandhu, a student at Ross Lurgio Middle School, knows more about the world around her than your typical eighth-grader.

Her knowledge will be on display today as she participates in the final round of the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C., where she’s one of 10 finalists out of a field of 54 competitors who came from every U.S. state and several U.S. territories.

And how did she get to be a finalist? “I looked at atlases and maps and kept up with the current news,” said Sandhu, who added that the National Geographic Bee is more than a geography test. It requires an understanding of politics and economics, different religions and cultures.

“It’s a general knowledge exam,” she said. “When I really got into it, it was about in the sixth grade.”

This trip to the National Geographic Bee finals is not the first for Sandhu. She was a top 10 finalist last year. “I’m not really expecting anything this time,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m just really glad to be here.”

School classes that have assisted in her pursuit of becoming National Geographic Bee champion are her social studies class and her earth science class, which helps her identify physical patterns in the earth’s geography.

Today’s final round is being moderated by Alex Trebek, host of “Jeopardy!” The contest will be aired Thursday on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. The winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Second and third-place contestants will receive a $15,000 and $10,000 scholarship, respectively.

Sandhu said the first round of the finals competition was a blur for her, but she did manage to remember at least one of the questions she was asked, which was “What river runs through the capital city of Dublin, Ireland?” Sandhu gave the judges a correct answer when she replied, “The Liffey.”

In her spare time, Sandhu competes on the Manchester Swim Team, skis, and performs with the Bedford Youth Performing Company.

Some day, she thinks she may become an author — or an explorer. “Learning more about the world and exploring seems like a really great thing to do,” she said.

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