Ask Hopkins Elementary fourth-grader Jack Weggeland any question about world geography, and he will no doubt know the answer.
Jack is a whiz at geography among other subjects, recently competing at the state level in the Oregon Geography Bee at Western Oregon University.
"He won the school level Geography Bee and had to take an online test to try and qualify for state," said his teacher, fourth/fifth-grade teacher Marika Conrad. "In all of my years of teaching, I can't ever remember a student from Hopkins qualifying for state… Last year, only 103 students qualified to go to state, so this is kind of a big deal."
According to Jack, each fourth- and fifth-grade class at Hopkins held a geography bee, with the class winners competing against each other. "They were all the same day in Portable 24 with the questions asked by Mrs. Salm (the principal)," he said. "If you missed two questions, you were out.
"At the end, a fifth-grader, Ryan, came so close to beating me. The last three questions were about the location of a national marine museum, the site of an archeological dig, and where Bengal tigers are found."
After winning the school bee, Jack took the online test and qualified for the state tournament, noting, "There were 70 questions you were supposed to answer within an hour, but I did it in 35-36 minutes. I got over half right, and that qualified me for state."
Following the March 31 state competition for fourth- through eighth-graders, Jack emailed Conrad, "I just finished the geography bee, and had a great time! I got 6 of the 8 questions right in the first round. I tied for second in the group, but I didn't qualify for the final round. We walked around Western Oregon campus and bookstore, and bought a cool WOU pennant for my room."
After Jack, the son of Mary and Christian Weggeland, returned to school, he described the competition, saying, "The class asked me about how it went, and I told everyone about my experience. They thought it was awesome and cool."
Jack has always liked exploring a wide range of subject matters, noting he memorized the Periodic Table of chemical elements, from hydrogen to oganesson. "There are 118 elements, and the last 15 are manmade," he said. "A real challenge for me was memorizing all the countries in the world and their capitals and the former countries."
Jack has ideas about how to improve world geography, saying about Russia, which is the world's largest country, "I think it would be cool if Russia split up into more countries."
He also has studied one of his ancestors, Danqurt Anthon Weggeland from Norway, who was a prolific painter and came west on the Mormon Trail.
Everything from exploring outer space to the depths of the oceans interests Jack, who explained, "I really want to get a Ph.D., maybe in marine archeology. And I'm kind of interested in learning about the animal world. Or I would like to work at a particle accelerator or create a new element."
In class this year, Jack and his table partner "Q" used a Google app to create a slide show about World War I battle sites.
Jack has always been a high achiever, starting in kindergarten. "I could read before kindergarten and was interested in archeology," he said. "I learned to write in kindergarten and did a report on Egypt. My classmates did not do that – they were just learning to read."
Three other Sherwood-area students also qualified for the state Geography Bee.