Understanding the world around you is imperative, especially since technology has made it easier and fun to explore places you could, otherwise, only imagine. Being geographically literate helps you interpret the plethora of information that comes your way each day (and that’s no joke)! Without the perspective of knowing where you are or where things happen, you can find it difficult to navigate your way through it all. That is why Google is excited and proud to sponsor the National Geographic Bee for the third year, which sparks student interest in geography.

Last fall, over four million students started preparing for the 2011 Bee. Today, the students who have progressed to the state bee level, will compete for one of the coveted 54 spots at the finals in Washington DC in May. It’s not as simple as memorizing a list of capitals or identifying places on a map. These geographic black belts answer tough questions about human, environmental, physical, and regional geography.

The love of geography is a great asset for these students as they continue their education and careers. It might also lead them to a life of exploration and adventure. We asked a few famous explorers why geography is important to them and how they use Google Earth. Watch our Geography video below to hear their great insight:

We wish all of the competitors the best of luck!