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Pedro Gaona earns spot in Iowa “GeoBee”

March 21, 2019
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Pedro Gaona is really familiar with today's world - he is one of 100 contestants state-wide in Iowa who will be competing in the semi-finals of National Geographic's's GeoBee on March 29 at Cedar Falls. Pedro, 13, an 8th grader at the South Tama Middle school in Toledo, won the honor by coming out on top of the STC GeoBee held recently. A total of 425 students from 5th- 8th grade took part here.

The field narrows to 10 finalists and then to three place winners.

"I'm pretty interested in geography and doing a lot of study for it," Pedro says. "You learn a lot about the world and different cultures."

Article Photos

GeoBee state qualifier Pedro Gaona with South Tama Middle School teacher George Kuhter. Chronicle/John Speer

Upon winning the South Tama contest, Pedro took an on-line qualifying test. The National Geographic Society in turn invited up to 100 of the top qualifiers to take part in the upcoming state-wide competition.

"Pedro is a very industrious young man and takes his learning seriously, " 8th grade social studies teacher George Kuhter says. "I think that he will go very far at the high school when he has a choice to pursue his interests."

The state GeoBee, to be held on the University of Northern Iowa campus, brings together those 100 students from a state-wide field of 4,500 who took part this year Kuhter says.

Kuhter is well-versed in the GeoBee himself - he has served as the Iowa state coordinator for the past 27 years. He's the contact person for the entire event and, heading up the second round of the National Geographic competition, Kuhter has been in charge of organizing it.

who took part this year, George Kuhter, South Tama Middle School 8th grade Social Studies teacher says.

Second Win

Pedro is actually a repeat winner in the GeoBee. Two years ago, as a 6th grade student in Florida, he won the school's championship but lost out on selection as a state finalist. He did not compete last year because the school he was attending did not offer the contest.

Pedro explained the test questions are in a couple of formats. Some required a specific answer while others offer a multiple choice. A few sample test questions provided National Geographic are:

1. "Commercial bulb production is an important economic activity in what country just north of the Netherlands?"

2. "The Alboran Sea and the Ionian Sea are both part of what larger sea?"

3. "Which starte is closer to the Gulf of Mexico - Virginia or Arkansas?"

Pedro lives in Toledo. His parents are Pedro Alverez Gaona and Vanessa Santos.

(Answers below)

The winner of second level state competition is awarded a medal, $1,000 cash, other prizes and a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national championship in May.

You can follow the national competition on May 19-22 at

Sample question answers:

1. Netherlands

2. Mediterranean Sea




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