Monday, June 23, 2008

Did you know? The National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition

Spatial Worlds website
Sydney, Australia: S: 33º 53' E: 151º 10'
Picture descriptions:
Left image: Students on stage at the National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition U16 final in Sydney.
Right image: The groynes for sand retention along Botany Bay in Sydney.

Last week I had the pleasure to be involved in the National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition U16 final in Sydney. The competition has been conducted since 1995 by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ) in cahoots with the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA). The competition is a great vehicle to promote geography in schools and to explore the depths of the geographical knowledge and spatial understanding of students. In fact, in 2008 over 90,000 students across Australia entered the competition. To enter, schools simply have to nominate the number of students participating and then conduct a 35 minute test on site. For competition information go to . The number of students involved has steadily grown over the years and the competition has rapidly become an important component of AGTA’s desire to promote geography in schools. The competition final for the U16 category of the competition was conducted at the Taronga Zoo auditorium on June 16th. The quiz mistress? for the final was Jacinta Tynan from Sky News Australia who put the students through a rigorous session of questions related to geography. It is worth going to the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland’s website at to get an idea of the questions the students are asked in the competition. The ability and knowledge of the students was amazing during the final and certainly put this geographer to shame! Questions like; what countries does the Prime Meridian pass through and the 6 largest land area continents were answered at lightening pace by the students on stage in front of over 200 of their peers and adults. Quite an intimidating experience which they mastered very well. The eventual winner after a tie breaker of three questions was Miguel Vera-Cruz from Fort Street High School in Sydney. Miguel defeated David Giles from Pembroke School in South Australia who did a great job (not being biased!).
As the Acting Chair of AGTA, I appreciated the opportunity to MC the event and to see first hand how professionally the competition is conducted by Kath Berg (RGSQ) and Margaret McIvor (AGTA) from Queensland. I am sure the competition will continue to promote geography in Australian schools as it continues to grow.
To learn more about the competition go to

To get a head start on the competition, the following geographical knowledge/quiz orientated spatial sites may be of use to your students preparing for the competition (or just for your interest).

Please consider being involved or extending your participation in the competition. All students get participation or a credit/distinction/high distinction certificate. Competitions such as this are a great pretext to award the certificates at a school assembly. Such promotion is important to reinforce that geography is an integral, dynamic, exciting and important component of the school curriculum. To help geography grow and respond to the opportunities the National Curriculum has provided geography, we must become marketers and promoters of our subject at the school, local and National level. The National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition provides this opportunity!

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