12-year-old Mass. boy wins National Geographic Bee
Sathwik Karnik clinched the title from 13-year-old runner-up Conrad Oberhaus.
By BEN NUCKOLS of The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Gaining confidence as he nailed questions about obscure island chains, bodies of water, global trade and culture, 12-year-old Sathwik Karnik cruised to victory Wednesday in the 2013 National Geographic Bee.
Sathwik, of Plainville, Mass., correctly named Chimborazo as the mountain in Ecuador that represents the farthest point from the Earth's center to clinch the title. He got all five questions right in his one-on-one duel with the runner-up, 13-year-old Conrad Oberhaus of Lincolnshire, Ill.
Sathwik pushed ahead of Conrad on the second question, correctly naming Baotou as the largest city in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which is home to one of the world's largest deposits of rare-earth elements. While Conrad didn't miss another question, Sathwik never relinquished the lead.
It was Sathwik's first appearance in the National Geographic Bee finals — but he might have made it earlier if not for his 15-year-old brother, Karthik, who beat him twice in the Massachusetts state bee. Karthik finished 5th in the national bee in 2011 and sixth in 2012.
"I'm just shocked," Sathwik said. "I didn't think I could win. I thought I would end up somewhere in the top 10."
Slideshow: The secret life of a stay-at-home mom
When her boys were in elementary school, Sathwik's mother, Rathma Karnik, had them play games with an atlas instead of hide-and-seek, asking them to be the first to find a city, body of water or landmark.
Rathma and her husband, Vishwanath, who both work in the software industry, emigrated from near Mangalore, India, in 2002. Indian-American children have dominated both the geography bee and the Scripps National Spelling Bee in recent years. Vishwanath said the trend can be attributed to coming from a country of 1.2 billion people.
"That brought us the competitive spirit," he said. "If we don't work hard and put forth our best effort, we can't succeed in this world."
Sathwik led throughout the final round of the 25th geography bee and was the last contestant to get a question wrong. Participants earned between 1 and 5 points for each correct answer, with the harder questions worth more points, and the competitors with the lowest scores were eliminated at various points in the competition. He wins a $25,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.
Sathwik, who stands 4-foot-11 and has the fuzzy outline of a mustache on his upper lip, said he was nervous at first because he had never been on television before, but he became more comfortable as he rattled off a string of correct answers.
Conrad gets a $15,000 scholarship for finishing second. Ricky Uppaluri of Roswell, Ga., at 11 the youngest of the final 10, was third and receives a $10,000 scholarship. Akhil Rekulapelli of Ashburn, Va., finished fourth and won $1,000 in cash.
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who has hosted the bee finals since the inaugural competition in 1989, is stepping down after this year and will be replaced by broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien. The finals will be broadcast Thursday evening on the National Geographic Channel.
During a commercial break, Trebek warned the audience at Washington's National Theatre not to blurt out or silently mouth the answers.
"As if that's likely to happen," he said. "Most of you can't even find Detroit."
Readers: Calling all mom bloggers — we’re looking for fresh voices on MSN Living. Email us your samples and contact info.
Photo: 2013 National Geographic Bee winner Sathwik Karnik (Courtesy of NationalGeographic via YouTube, http://youtu.be/VLyF3REvB1s)
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
Two sociologists have found that parents who have daughters are more inclined to support the GOP and turn a cold shoulder to Democrats.
The experts at Nameberry.com predict what will be big in baby-naming next year
Famed event-planner David Stark shared tips for making chic holiday decorations using items you already have around the house. Take a look!
Sociologist Karen Z. Kramer found that over the past decade more than 550,000 men were stay-at-home fathers, which is about 3.5 percent of the married with kids population.
Ben Miller celebrates his wife's birthday and the anniversary of the day their premature son Ward Miles came home for good with a video documenting his first year.
Adopting an animal is a major commitment. Yet all too often people put more effort into researching what kind of car to get than the type of pet that would best fit their lifestyle.
’Tis the season to send out holiday greeting cards to all your friends and family. But, as our friends at Awkward Family Pet Photos know, not all holiday snapshots are the same. Some are just plain kooky — especially when pets are included. So with good tidings and great cheer, here are 10 wacky holiday animal portraits that are sure to make you laugh out loud and get you in the holiday spirit. And possibly make you think twice about dressing up the family cat this year.
King of the jungle? Nah, it's just a labradoodle!
Side-by-side images of adorable babies and their celebrity doppelgängers
Do you have a finicky furry friend on your holiday gift list this year? You're in luck! We've rounded up the coolest cat-approved products to bring you purrfect gift ideas for every kind of cat -- from the curious kitten to the most refined feline. Any one of these special gifts could make your resident kitty purr with pleasure and maybe, just maybe, like the present this year even more than the box and wrapping paper it came in!
Plus, puppy names to watch
This holiday season's hottest toy has yet to be revealed, but more often than not, the best gifts are the ones kids don't even know to ask for. So this year, surprise your kids with unique presents under the tree, and watch as their eyes light up when they unwrap them. From space-age sand to a DIY race track, these out-of-the-box gift ideas will provide some serious shopping inspiration. Click through the slideshow above for all our favorite picks.