Kyle Bowen knows a lot about history. And geography. And he performs pretty well under pressure, too.
An eighth-grader at Enumclaw’s Thunder Mountain Middle School, Bowen jetted earlier this month to Atlanta where he competed in the finals of the National History Bee. A month ago, the 14-year-old had advanced to the second phase of competition in the National Geographic Bee.
Since Enumclaw schools do not have a history competition, Bowen’s involvement came through an invitation by Academic Competition Enterprises, the sponsoring agency behind History Bee. Through an online exam in early January, he qualified for regional competition. That consisted of two exams of 25 questions each, covering both U.S. and world history.
During the February regionals in Seattle, Bowen tied for the championship but slipped into the No. 2 spot following a sudden-death playoff. The top eight qualified for nationals, staged June 1-2 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
In Atlanta, Bowen placed 43rd among approximately 450 students in his division. He survived four buzzer rounds – like the “Jeopardy” television program – and two more exams of U.S. and world history, advancing to the quarterfinals.
Five weeks earlier, Bowen was in the spotlight, competing in the second phase of the National Geographic Bee.
He was among 103 students, from grades four through eight and coming from all corners of Washington, who gathered on the Pacific Lutheran University campus. He had qualified for the state contest by winning at the school level.
At PLU, preliminary rounds narrowed the field and, following the afternoon’s final round, Ihsan Lishar from Bellevue’s Spiritridge Elementary walked away as the statewide winner, earning $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Washington state in the national championship of the 30th annual National Geographic Bee.