One hundred of the state's brightest fourth to eighth graders crowded the North Gym at Fresno State to compete in the California Geographic Bee, but by midday only 10 of the 100 contestants were left standing
It was a battle as intense as any high-stakes sports game. A true nail biter, determined by a 27-way tiebreaker that took place over a 30-minute span of questions.
The survivors of the tiebreaker made it to the top 10. David Sherr, a sixth grader from San Francisco, was among the finalists. He says geography has been a favorite subject for as long as he can remember.
"When I was really little I just liked the colors that countries were painted in on maps, so I think that's what really got me interested in geography at first," said Sherr, who attends Brandeis Hillel Day School.
"This is Jeopardy on steroids for fourth through eighth graders," said state coordinator Sean Boyd.
And for these students, the Geography Bee gives them a chance to compete with their minds in a subject they love.
"Geography is just really interesting to me. It's always fascinating to learn more about the world; there's no limit to what you can learn," said Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, a student at the Nueva School.
Bergson-Michelson was named the state finalist. He will make his way over to Washington, D.C. in May to compete in nationals, where he will have the opportunity to win $50,000 worth in scholarships, and an all-expense paid trip to the Galapagos.
Bergson-Michelson has competed in the California Geographic Bee since he was in the fourth grade, and he's never placed lower than second place.