Mt Laurel student wins $500 as top-10 finisher in National Geographic Bee

Kapil Nathan, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Mt Laurel Elementary School, finished in the top 10 at the National Geographic Bee on May 13. (File)

Kapil Nathan, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Mt Laurel Elementary School, finished in the top 10 at the National Geographic Bee on May 13. (File)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Shelby County student won $500 as a top-10 finalist in the 27th annual National Geographic Bee on May 13.

Ten-year-old Kapil Nathan, a fifth grader at Mt Laurel Elementary School, was among 54 state-level winners who participated in the Bee’s preliminary rounds on May 11. As a top-10 finisher, Nathan competed in the final round May 13 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Eighth-grader Karan Menon, 14, of Edison, N.J., won the 2015 National Geographic Bee and a $50,000 college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an expedition for two to the Galapagos Islands aboard the Lindblad ship “National Geographic Endeavor.”

Menon correctly answered the following question to win: “If completed, the proposed Grand Inga Dam would become the world’s largest hydropower plant. This dam would be built near Inga Falls on which African river?” The answer was “Congo River.”

Eleven-year-old Shriya Yarlagadda, a sixth grader from Grand Blanc, Mich., placed second and received a $25,000 college scholarship. Sojas Wagle, a 13-year-old eighth grader from Springdale, Ark., placed third and received a $10,000 college scholarship.

Along with Nathan, other finalists who won $500 each were Nicholas Monahan, a 12-year-old sixth grader from McCall, Idaho; Patrick Taylor, a 12-year-old seventh grader from Coralville, Iowa; Abhinav Karthikeyan, a 12-year-old sixth grader from Germantown, Md.; Lucy Chae, a 13-year-old seventh grader from Newton Centre, Mass.; Shreyas Varathan, a 14-year-old eighth grader from Shakopee, Minn.; and Tejas Badgujar, a 13-year-old eighth grader from Allison Park, Penn.

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien moderated the final round of the Bee, which included more than 4 million students in more than 11,000 schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Atlantic and Pacific territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

This year marked Nathan’s second time to compete at the state level. He won the 2015 State Geography Bee at Samford University in March after winning his school’s first Geography Bee in February.

Nathan was among 102 competitors at the state Bee and won by correctly answering the question “Which country includes the islands of Melville, Mornington and Bathurst?” His answer was “Australia.”

As a state champion, he received $100, the “National Geographic Atlas of the World, 10th Edition” and a medal.

Nathan is the son of Archana Subramanian and Vaidyanathan Sahasranaman Venganullur and has a younger brother, Krish.