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Indian-American boy wins National Geographic bee

May 22, 2008 09:17 IST

Akshay Rajagopal, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Lincoln, Nebraska, took top honours at the 2008 National Geographic Bee held in Washington, DC, winning a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

The question to which he provided the correct answer without batting an eyelid was: The urban area of Cochabamba has been in the news in recent years due to protests over the privatisation of the municipal water supply and regional autonomy issues. Cochabamba is the third largest conurbation in what country? Answer: Bolivia.

Rajagopal, who attends Lux Middle School in Lincoln, did not miss a single question in Tuesday's preliminary rounds or today's (Wednesday's) final and championship rounds where the top 10 contestants pitted their knowledge against one another in the competition, which for the 20th year was moderated by the 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek.

The second place winner and recipient of a $15,000 college scholarship was Alabama's Hunter Bledsoe, 13, and eighth-grader at Hewitt Trussville Middle School in Trussville, and the third place winner was William Lee of Massachusetts, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Joyce Middle School on Woburn, north of Boston, who helped himself to a $10,000 college scholarship.

Nearly five million students take part in the National Geographic Bee each year, and 55 state and territory winner participated in the preliminary rounds on Tuesday.

The contest is open to students from fifth through eighth grades, ages 10 to 14.

The seven other finalists were Nikhil Desai of California, Benjamin Geyer of Washington, DC, Erik Troske of Indiana, Isaac Pasley of Missouri, Joseph Pera of Montana, Milan Sandhu of New Hampshire, and Taylor Morris of North Carolina.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC