also the land forms and water bodies associated with it.
Besides, there were copies of the National Geographic magazine
to pore over, and the Internet to mine more details from.
Rahul also participated in local math and science contests, including the University Interscholastic League, and at universities in the
area, such as Texas A and M and Rice University. All that math
made it easier for him to remember geographical locations, too.
He tried to be as detail-oriented as possible this time around,
going over the material again and again and thinking about it. He
would make sure he knew exactly where places were, too.
“I looked them up on a map so it was easier to visualize (them),”
And unlike Aadith Moorthy, the Geography Bee winner in 2010,
who used a network of details to remember diverse material, Rahul
did not rely on specific connections.
He says his parents helped a lot.
“My mother spent a lot of time going through atlases, Wikipedia
and reference books to find info. Together, we would find out a way
for it to stay in my head. My father would make up questions by
looking up National Geographic magazines, atlases, etc, and make
up difficult questions with few clues,” Rahul says, then, considering
the idea again, suggests that maybe his mother spent more time on
He admits that all that learning did cause the heat to go up at
times, especially since he was involved in many more academic
“We did get stressed. Not possible to do something for five years
and not get stressed,” Rahul says, stressing that his victory was still
a collaborative effort.
“When talking to reporters, I said we, not I,” he says.
Since he is not into sports — not even the indoor kind — he had
to find a safety valve of sorts. That came in the form of Karen Fisher,
his piano teacher (He goes for classical music).
Friends at school, teachers, and Fisher were incredibly supportive
— “cheering me on, even if they weren’t there at the competition,”
While some contestants can tell you their future plans till retirement and beyond, Rahul says he prefers to keep learning, and later
pick a field to work in.
“Going to Ivy League school is what most people want to do rather
than go to a college (to learn) a subject you’re interested in,” he says.
For now, he prefers to get some more exposure to biology, physics
He has taken biology already, and plans to take AP biology and
chemistry next year. But, he stresses, it is just a matter of what one
“Even the Geography Bee — I was passionate about it. The best
way to be motivated is to have interests,” he says.
But, given the 5 to 6 million competitors he pipped to the post,
“interest” seems a mild word to use.
But then, Rahul is a mild-mannered lad — until academically
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COURTES Y: THE NAGVEKARS
Above, Rahul Nagvekar, left, answers the winning question.
Below, On the traditional Geography Bee winner’s trip to Galapagos