KENNEBUNK — It is a big world, and students at Middle School of the Kennebunks have been exploring it. On Jan. 28, they’ll take part in the National Geographic Geography Bee, or Geo Bee, that will test the extent of their knowledge.

Staff at National Geographic say the event is an annual competition designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world.

The champion of the Middle School of the Kennebunks National Geography Bee will advance to the next level of competition, a qualifying test to determine state competitors.

All school champions are eligible to win the national championship and its first prize, a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the society, including a subscription to National Geographic magazine. The national championship will be held in Washington, D.C., May 17-21.

Those interested can watch and cheer on Geo Bee competitors at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the MSK cafeteria.

The National Geographic Society developed the Geo Bee in 1989 in response to concerns about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. In the past 30 years, nearly 1,600 state champions have traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in the national competition, and National Geographic has dispensed $1.5 million in scholarships to the winners.

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