Scottsdale seventh-grader San-deep Subramanian has always had a high interest in maps. He even asked for maps as birthday presents.
That passion has carried Sandeep, a 12-year-old student at BASIS Scottsdale charter school, to the state geography bee today at the Tucson Convention Center. He will compete with the top 100 geography students in fourth through eighth grades in Arizona.
Nearly half of the contestants are from Scottsdale and the East Valley.
Sandeep's father, Kal Subramanian, said his son had the entire map of Phoenix memorized by age 5.
"He was very visually interested in maps," Kal Subramanian said. "Geography was his passion. We recognized that very early in life."
One winner from each state will go on to compete May 20-21 in the 20th annual National Geographic Bee at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. The moderator of the national event will be "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.
Sandeep said he uses different books on geography and the Internet to help prepare him for the bees.
"Personally, I just really love geography," Sandeep said. "My favorite part is reading maps and traveling."
The National Geographic Bee is a four-step process. It includes school competitions, a qualifying test, and both the state and national level competitions.
The first prize in the national competition is a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.