Texas 8th-grader wins National Geographic contest

Nihar Janga, 14, of Austin, Texas, reacts as he wins the National Geographic GeoBee, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at National Geographic in Washington. Janga is also a past co-winner of the National Spelling Bee, in 2016 when he won in a tie at eleven-years-old. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Nihar Janga, 14, of Austin, Texas, reacts with a prayer after winning the National Geographic GeoBee, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at National Geographic in Washington. Janga is also a past co-winner of the National Spelling Bee, in 2016, when he won in a tie at eleven-years-old. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
"Team Navigators" from Flushing Christian School in New York, N.Y., including Natanel Rozic, left, Victor Jimenez, Alex Jun, and Jeremiah Pierre, react after they win in GeoChallenge teams, a new project based competition focused on solutions to plastic pollution, part of the National Geographic GeoBee, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at National Geographic in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Nihar Janga, an eighth-grader from Austin, Texas, with an already impressive array of awards, took home top honors Wednesday in the 31st annual National Geographic GeoBee, an elite test of geographic knowledge.

Janga triumphed during a competition at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington. The student from Austin's Canyon Ridge Middle School was also a co-champion of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee and a top-ten finalist in the 2018 GeoBee.

The society also held the first-ever national-level competition of the GeoChallenge, a team competition that asked for innovative solutions to modern problems. This year's challenge: plastic pollution in our waterways.

A team from Flushing Christian School in Flushing, New York, won by building a model filtration device to clear plastic debris from the Hudson River.

The winning team will receive $25,000 plus support to implement their project. Janga will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour ll.

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