Sunday Conversation with William Rodemsky

Sixth grader’s geographical knowledge could net him a scholarship

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Sunday Conversation with William Rodemsky

Cross your fingers that William Rodemsky doesn’t get too many questions about capitals when he competes in the Georgia National Geographic State Bee in Milledgeville on April 1. The sixth grader from Kittredge Magnet School in DeKalb County says capitals are his Achilles heel. But William knows lots of other geography facts. Should he win, he will represent Georgia at the national competition in Washington, D.C., and the chance to receive a $50,000 college scholarship.

Q: How does the National Geography Bee work?

A: It is a competition, basically made up of a series of questions about geography. They can be about natural geography like mountains, or political geography like capitals. I first competed against kids in my classroom and then I won for my school. Next, I had to take an online test. I passed that and that allows me to move onto state. If I win that, I compete against the winners from all of the other states.

Q: So do you like geography?

A: I do. I play a lot of historical video games. I have to work on capitals, though.

Q: U.S. capitals or world capitals?

A: Just capitals.

Q: Have you traveled a lot?

A: The only time I have been out of the country was when my family took a cruise to the Bahamas. I don't remember much other than that the capital is Nassau.

Q: There you go. One capital down.

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of the questions that you have been asked up to this point?

A: One was, in which Brazilian city is there a statue on top of a hill called Christ the Redeemer? Rio de Janeiro is the answer.

Q: How did you know that?

A: I might have read it in a book somewhere.

Q: What’s another one?

A: Here is a question from the online test. You want to start a chocolate company in a South American city. Which city do you choose —Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro or La Paz. I put down Rio because it is a large port city with lots of tourists who I think would be looking to buy chocolate. I think that was the right answer.

Q: Some of the questions involve reason and logic in addition to basic geography?

A: Yes.

Q: Do they ask questions about today’s geography or geography from another time?

A: It can be historical geography. Since I have been growing up, the world map hasn't changed very much. The one thing that I remember changing is Sudan splitting up into Sudan and South Sudan.

Q: Are you surprised that you have gotten this far in the competition?

A: I finished the online test pretty quickly so I wasn't sure but I thought I had a good shot. I am competitive. And I usually like things that I am pretty good at.

Q: What other things are you good at?

A: I am okay at science. I play chess.

Q: How are you studying for the state competition?

A: I practice a lot of geography on this website called Quizlet. I have Jeopardy! on my Xbox and my family and I watch Jeopardy! on TV.

Q: Are you nervous?

A: I am really nervous because I am under pressure to win. I am the first kid from my school to make it in a long time.

Q: Do the kids in your school tell you that you have to win?

A: No, they tell me congratulations but I am still feeling the pressure.