What is it about Georgia and geography whizzes this year?
In May, Sanjeev Uppalluri, a Roswell fifth-grader, finished third in the National Geographic Bee geography contest.
Later this summer, Nirav Ilango of Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek and Pranav Bhandarkar of North Oconee High School in Bogart will be half of the four-person U.S. team headed to Japan for the International Geography Olympiad.
The two Georgia 16-year-olds and their partners, one from Illinois and one from New Jersey, first had to pass qualifying exams given around the country. That narrowed the field to 150, who competed in a national tournament in Washington for the four slots.
They will take on teams from 34 countries for the title of world champions.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Nirav said. “I don’t know what to expect, but I know we have a good team. I’m just looking forward to the experience.”
Questions will span the breadth of geography, from environmental science and demographics to economics and culture.
“I’ve been studying actively for this,” said Pranav. He is a former two-time state geography champion on the elementary level and has been reviewing his advanced placement geography class studies and studying past Olympiad questions to prepare.
Nirav has been reviewing maps and globes and reading up wherever he can. His father, Sankaralingam, said it was remarkable that Georgia supplied two members to this year’s team.
Their families are footing the bill for the travel to Japan. The Olympiad pays the rest of the costs.
Bhandarkar said he is not sure where his geography studies will lead him, other than to Japan this year.
“I have pretty diverse interests, math, science. I’m unsure what I’d like to study later on,” he said.
“But geography helps you understand more from a human perspective, from a natural perspective. It just increases my understanding.”