• Photo: Matt Zambonin/Canadian Geographic

The scoreboard at the 21st Canadian Geographic Challenge was tight throughout the entire competition, but Jack Cheng managed to hold on and win the title of National Champion.

The grade 10 student from Calgary, Alta. remained calm and collected as he faced off against four other students from across the country—ranging from grade seven to grade 10—in Ottawa on June 5, in an impressive display of extensive geography knowledge.

“I’m pretty proud of myself,” says Cheng, who attributes his win to a considerable amount of preparation including reading and studying maps. Cheng hopes to use his $5,000 award to promote geography at his highschool.

Finalist Jessica Cao correctly identified Old Town Lunenburg as a World Heritage Site, securing second place in a tie breaker against grade seven student William Chapman, the challenge’s youngest finalist.

About 3,000 applications were submitted to take part in the challenge. Of these, 20 students were selected to go to Ottawa, with only five making it to the finals.

The questions were asked in game style format, and ranged from cultural geography to map reading, and everything in between. Some questions were presented in video format—much like Jepordy!—and featured such luminaries as diver Jill Heinerth and astronaut Roberta Bondar.

The goal of the challenge is to not only get kids excited about geography, but to also highlight its importance and relevance in our daily lives, says John Geiger, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

“These national finalists give us hope that all future world leaders will have a strong background in geography,” he says.

Of the 45 questions asked in the challenge, there was only one that stumped all five geography wiz kids— no one could identify the red squares on a satellite image of agricultural land as areas where crops hadn’t been planted.

For more information about The Canadian Geographic Challenge visit challenge.canadiangeographic.ca