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Texas 8th Grader Wins the National Geographic Bee and Scholarship Prize

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Pranay Varada, an 8th grader in Irving, Texas, earned first place at the National Geographic Bee this week in Washington D.C. According to WFAA, Varada won a “$50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.”

Varada’s achievement is well-deserved. He came in sixth last year and worked diligently by sacrificing extracurriculars to spend more time memorizing specific geographical landmarks and information about cultures before going into the competition again this year. “It was extreme disappointment, to get all the way up here and not win,” Varada told CBS. “I was researching and trying to find ways to not make the same mistakes twice.”

National Geographic says that 10,000 schools participate, but only 54 students make it to the four-day competition at the National Geographic Society Headquarters. CBS Morning News highlighted the finale of the competition where the smart students were treated to the spotlight. Video shows how intense the final round was between Varada and Thomas Wright from Wisconsin. The two bounced back and forth with correct answers flying off their tongues making it look almost easy. But in a sudden death round, Varada came out on top.