Geography whiz struts his stuff in D.C. Patrick Jacobs makes semifinals in national contest


MOUNT AIRY -- Sixth-grader Patrick Jacobs didn't come home empty-handed from his trip to the National Geography Bee in Washington last week.

He only made it to the semifinals of the bee, but he won the miniature golf tournament.

Despite competing with mostly seventh- and eighth-graders, Patrick just missed making the list of 10 finalists who competed in a live telecast on Maryland Public Television. The moderator was Alex Trebek of "Jeopardy."

"I felt I did pretty well," said Patrick, 11, son of Van and Patricia Jacobs, back in his Mount Airy home after an exciting week in the national finals of the National Geographic Society's competition for fourth- through eighth-graders.

He attends the McDonogh School in Randallstown and qualified for the national bee after he won the Maryland bee in March.

"I was in one of the tougher rooms," he said. The semifinal competition Wednesday was divided up into various rooms, and two winners were selected from each.

Although Patrick missed only one of the nine questions in his room, two people got them all right.

The question he missed was: What Indo-European language is spoken by Afrikaners in South Africa? The answer was Dutch.

But there were some answers he was particularly proud of.

For example, he had to name the city pictured in a fish-eye slide projected on a screen. The only clue was that the city stretched for more than 20 miles along one of the Great Lakes.

"The fish-eye view was kind of distorted," he said, but he took a stab and got it right.

"It was Chicago," he said.

He also knew why the Alaskan oil pipeline was built above ground for part of its length -- to avoid the permafrost.

Not surprisingly, geography is Patrick's favorite subject.

"It's just interesting. It's such a wide and general subject. It covers so many things, it's just amazing."

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