The first day of the national GeoChallenge was Monday, May 20, and it included interactive workshops meant to help the participants prepare for their presentations and evaluations on the following day.
“We learned new techniques to make our project better and ways to improve it,” Nick said. “We learned about mapping, scaling, social media, photo and video tips, and public speaking. Then we had time to improve our projects.”
During the semifinals, Pollution Solutions presented their plan to a panel of discerning National Geographic judges.
“We had worked very hard and practiced many times on our presentation,” Rishab said. “We were very confident in our project and thought we would definitely win.”
Pollution Solutions, however, wasn’t one of three teams chosen to advance to the finals, but members were still able to benefit from the experience, both academically and beyond.
“I was really impressed with how well they took the news of not making the top three. (The trip) became a little vacation for them,” Ward said. “They told me: ‘We’re OK with it, because now the pressure’s off and we can just relax.’”
Since all of the students participating in the GeoChallenge were divided into teams called pods, they were able to develop friendships with like-minded kids from coast to coast.
“With our pods, we went to the (Smithsonian’s) National Zoo, saw the White House, went to many of the memorials and the Natural History and American History museums,” said Nick. “Every night, we had dinner together and had a fun time. We had a game night, a fun dinner at the zoo and a gala.”
Rishab said he took selfies with National Geographic officials.
“The vice president of NatGeo put his brooch on my coat and asked me to come back next year,” he said. “I would definitely want to try again next year.