Lake Forest geo bee winner loves geography
Carra Wu, eighth grader at Deer Path Middle School, won first place in the school Geography Bee, which guarantees her a spot in the sectional competition later this month. | Linda Blaser~Sun-Times Media
LAKE FOREST — Deer Path Middle School Geography Bee winner Carra Wu hopes to do well in the Sectionals test later this month.Ultimately, she’d like to qualify for the State Bee in April. Wu, 13, is in eighth grade.
Q. How often have you competed in the DPMS Geography Bee and what was different this time?
A. I’ve competed all three years in the Geo Bee. When my sister was at Deer Path, she’s three years older than I am, she won in both seventh and eighth grade. She really wanted me to go for it and to keep trying. Ultimately, I feel like it was mostly her pushing me from fifth through seventh grade to study. Once she kind of lost hope in me, I really felt the motivation from myself and so I think that’s what really helped me succeed this year.
Q. How did you prepare for the competition?
A. A lot of what I did for the school bee is to prepare mainly on the United States, because the first several rounds are all about the United States. There’s a lot of studying that goes into the individual states themselves and then the nation as a whole. When you progress in the competition, the questions are on just about everything. You have to know all the rivers, all the lakes, all the seas, all the countries and the capitals and some of their territories, as well as some history of that country. This time I spent a lot of time making my own maps and trying to sketch, in as little time as possible, a nice map of a certain area. Sometimes it goes into complete disproportion, but I think it’s really great practice. There was an article about how one of the National Geographic editors could do that on a napkin in under five minutes. I was really impressed, so I decided to try that for myself. I also look up a lot of online resources. I compile study lists and just quiz myself through each territory.
Q. How often do you study geography?
A. I have apps on my phone for geography studying. Every time I’m moving I’m studying geography. At home I put in a considerable amount of time, too. Before the school bee, I spent all night practicing, maybe three hours. But before that, it was just in study increments, maybe 30 minutes to an hour and then maybe just on my phone studying. I find that it’s really helpful to study all the geography ahead of time, so that when you come back into school for social studies, for example, you know exactly where they’re talking about or what point in history they’re talking about, what the culture is like around a certain area.
Q. Why are you so motivated to study geography?
A. I really find geography interesting. It’s not just about memorizing the different countries and their capitals. It’s also about learning about different people and how they’re similar and dissimilar to us, what they do for a living, how their natural environment impacts what goes into their everyday life. I think it’s beneficial to study geography, aside from the enjoyment.
Q. What aspect of geography do you like best?
A. I like learning physical features as well as political features. I’m not as steady on the history part, but I’ve been working on that. Last year, I got a question wrong about ancient Persia. I’ve really been working on trying to get my history up to scratch.
Q. Will you pursue geography in high school and beyond?
A. I have no idea. I love math and science, but I’m also interested in the liberal arts. I really love writing. I do want to do something that will incorporate my love for speaking and thinking. For example, I’m captain of the debate team. I just love communicating my ideas. I also like business. When I was little, we used to have lemonade stands every year, my sister and I. It was really quite the enterprise. We coordinated when the kids from camp — there was a camp near us — when they were leaving so that we could maximize profits. We had little carts running to and from our house because we’d run out so fast. We had group promotional deals…so I like everything.