Camden-Rockport Middle School students participated Jan. 11 in the National Geographic Bee, answering questions that ranged in subject matter from the relatively simple naming of American cities to the cultural traditions of countries in Asia and South America.

After moderator John Dow set the ground rules, the 15 students from grades five through eight began the first of three rounds of questions to determine who would participate in the finalist round. Some questions offered a choice between possible answers. Others, such as a question that asked the locations of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, required the students to answer without such choices.

Prior to the competition, which took place in the school’s Sea Spray Cafeteria, all CRMS students took part in preliminary rounds in their classrooms.

At the end of the first part of the Jan. 11 competition, almost half the students had been eliminated and the challenge moved on to the finalist round. When that round had ended, three seventh-grade students from Rockport — Thatcher Chamberlin, Max Holtzman and Brooks Saltonstall — remained at the front of the room.

Referring to a U.S. map that showed average commuting times for the different unlabeled states, the three were asked to make a variety of calculations. In that round, Chamberlin emerged as the first finalist. A runoff between the remaining two contestants yielded Holtzman as second finalist.

In the final — or championship — round of competition, the contestants answered questions concerning the location of Gorky Park, the production of nuclear energy and the manufacturing of cotton in Europe.

When the final score was tallied, Chamberlin was named the winner. Chamberlin said he didn’t do anything special to study for the bee, but he pays attention in class.

Chamberlin will take a written test to see if he will become one of 100 Maine students to participate in the state geography bee.

State qualifiers will compete in an oral competition in late March or early April and the winners from all 50 states will be invited to National Geographic headquarters in late May to compete in the national finals for scholarships in the amount of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at