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For the 18th year in a row, Canadian students are gearing up to compete in the Great Canadian Geography Challenge. Participants will vie to outscore their classmates in hopes of earning a spot in the national finals. Although competition is stiff, a few dozen students between grades 4 and 10 will earn the chance to follow in the footsteps of Kyle Richardson (right), winner of the 2012 Challenge and recipient of a $3,000 scholarship that accompanied the bragging rights.

Richardson bested his classmates at Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, Ont., and aced the qualifying test to make it to the national finals in April 2012. After a series of multiple-choice tests, he was eventually named the national winner.

In addition to geography, Richardson also enjoys the arts, citing vocal music, drama and dance among his interests — and it’s clear he’s got enough financial savvy to know what to do with his scholarship money too. “I’m not really sure yet,” he says. “I’m going to invest it until I’m older.”

Richardson will be too old to participate in the next Challenge but that isn’t stopping Leslie Salvatore, his former geography teacher, from encouraging her students this year to participate. “I see the Challenge as a valuable teaching tool,” she says. “Students become very engaged when material is presented to them as a game or a competition.”

Registration for the 2012- 2013 Challenge is now open and closes on Feb. 28, 2013. For more information, visit

— Jesse Tahirali

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Did you know that a 2005 National Survey determined that one-third of adult Canadians can be considered “geographically illiterate”?

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