Max Holperin wasn’t even in kindergarten when he unfolded his first map. After that he couldn’t get enough of them.
“I’ve got them plastered up all over my room,” he said. “I really like studying them.”
That hobby has paid off for this young man. He will be representing the Rhinelander district in the National Geographic State Geography Bee that will take place March 30 in Madison. Max is a seventh grader at Nativity of Our Lord School and at only 13-years-old, he’s already had plenty of practice memorizing the locations of countries, cities and landmarks all across the globe. “Our family likes to play a lot of games and we have several that include geography,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed those because they make learning interesting.”
Julie and David Holperin, Max’s parents, and his sister, Arianna, all join in the fun playing these games as a family. Julie believes these family times have made a difference in Max’s love of learning. “We like to travel and we play a lot of games while driving,” said Julie. “The kids are entertained but they also learn a lot.”
This bright and talented student was an eager participate in the Geography Bee held at his school a few weeks ago. He beat more than 100 students to garner the top position. “It was nerve wracking competing in the geography bee,” he said. “The questions aren’t just about the locations of places, you have to know a lot about math, science and biology to figure out some of the right answers.”
Max also had to take a written test, which included 70 questions. He was pretty confident when he handed that in. “We had an hour to take the test, and I got mine done in about 50 minutes,” he said. “The written stuff is easier for me than having to answer the questions orally.”
The state bee will be held on March 30 in Madison. With that date fast approaching, Max is really honing his geography skills. He voraciously reads books about different places in the world, and he studies National Geographic magazine, the National Geography Bee Studying Guide as well as the behemoth tome, The Encyclopedia of World Geography. He also plans on doing lots of research on the Internet.
“It’s really hard to study for this bee because the questions include so much subject matter, not just geography,” he said. “It’s hard to narrow down just what they will be asking.”
If Max wins the state competition in a few weeks, he will then represent Wisconsin in the National Geographic National Geography Bee which will be held in Washington D.C. in May. This bee will be moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the popular game show Jeopardy. It will also be publicized on television. And while going to Washington to represent Wisconsin in this national geography competition would be an honor for this student, he’s also looking forward to visiting another one of his relatives, his uncle, Senator Jim Holperin, while in Madison.
“When I’m in Madison, I’m definitely going to look up uncle Jim,” said Max with a grin. “I think that would be a lot of fun.”
Associate Editor Mary Ann Doyle is available at email@example.com.