Classmates, teachers and some parents looked on in admiration recently as 21 sixth-graders at Sarah Noble Intermediate School were quizzed on their national and international geography knowledge.

These finalists from 16 classroom geography bees -- one student was absent -- were participating in the first round of the 24th annual National Geographic geography competition, a revival competition this year at Sarah Noble.

Grant Li emerged as the winner.

The competition incorporated oral and written questions, with the students answering queries ranging from American state capitals to a choice among three foreign lands as the largest coffee producer.

To that latter question, moderator and Principal Leonard Tomasello assured neither "Dunkin Donuts" or "Starbucks" would be the answer.

Among the first questions of the day was what country south of Ecuador can be found the Siku, a bamboo instrument?

The answer: Peru.

Cape Horn is located in what country?

The answer: South Africa.

Students then had to narrow down answers between a couple of choices.

Which country has the most volcanic activity, Iceland or the United Kingdom?

The answer: Iceland.

Reyadh is a city of 4,000 mosques. Is it in Iran or Saudi Arabia?

If you picked Saudi Arabia, you were correct.

As the competition went on, the questions became harder. For one section, the students had to narrow down a field of three choices, and for another they had to decipher population information on an unlabeled United States map.

Contestants finally had to come up with the name of the state where Fresno is located (California) or the state home to the island of Galveston (Texas).

How about the New England state home to the oldest synagogue? Rhode Island.

One of the final questions required naming the longest river in New England, matching the name of a state. A few of the students grimaced when one of their fellow classmates missed that one: the Connecticut River.

"It's hard," said sixth-grader Corinne McDougal as she admired the finalists wrestling with questions on material they will not be taught until middle school.

"It teaches kids you can have fun and learn," said Jordyn Farrison.

"It was fun," agreed fellow contestant Elizabeth Schlyer.

For Grant Li, the contest was at times a nail-biter, he said. Yet he was all smiles when Mr. Tomasello placed the medal around his neck.

Other Sarah Noble finalists were Noah Harper, Emma Hallacker, Vincent Rago, Bryan Almeida, Andrew Tagg, Nick DiCandido, James Lewis, Jack Reardon, Griffin Rama, Meghan McCann, Jacob Ebinger, Michael Wood, Ryan Mondonedo, Melquisedec Ortiz, Victoria Schmidt, Charlotte Rothen, John Adams, Lukas Kugler, Dillon Ash and Peter Wunderlich.

Grant Li now must complete a written test to be chosen as one of 100 students to compete March 30 for the state championship.

State champions are given an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the May 22-24 national finals, to be moderated by "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.