Press Release

Statement from the National Geographic Society on the 2020 GeoBee & GeoChallenge

The National Geographic Society cancels the 2020 National Geographic GeoBee and GeoChallenge due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Washington, D.C.—The National Geographic Society has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s National Geographic GeoBee and GeoChallenge competitions due to the national emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). These cancellations include the state-level GeoBee competitions and regional-level GeoChallenge competitions scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2020 as well as the GeoChampionships scheduled in May 2020 at National Geographic headquarters.

Below is a statement from Vicki Phillips, Executive Vice President and Chief Education Officer at the National Geographic Society:

Like other organizations around the world, the National Geographic Society is continuing to monitor the latest developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which includes evaluating all of our public-facing programs.

After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s National Geographic GeoBee and GeoChallenge competitions. We believe it is critical to safeguard the health and safety of our GeoBee and GeoChallenge communities—and all those who take part in our events and experiences—by taking proactive steps to avoid any unnecessary health risks associated with group gatherings.

We are deeply saddened by this turn of events and did not make this decision lightly. We recognize the tremendous amount of time and effort that students, teachers, coordinators, administrators, parents and staff have poured into these competitions. We sincerely appreciate your patience as we’ve worked to adapt to this rapidly evolving public health crisis.

Our goal with the GeoBee and GeoChallenge is to provide competitions that inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world. That will always remain the North Star for these competitions. Although we won’t be able to move forward with the next levels of the competition as originally intended, we are immensely proud of our GeoBee and GeoChallenge communities and the inspiration and ingenuity they showcase every day.

Thank you for your understanding and for your support.


Developed by the National Geographic Society in 1988 to promote geographic knowledge among young people in the United States, the National Geographic GeoBee is an academic competition for public schools, private schools and homeschools in the United States and its territories, as well as the Department of Defense Dependents Schools. Students in grades four through eight from nearly 10,000 schools participate annually for a chance to win college scholarships and the honor of being the National Geographic GeoBee Champion. Over more than three decades, 120 million students have learned about the world by participating in the GeoBee. This year, an estimated 2.4 million students participated in the GeoBee across the country.


The GeoChallenge is a project-based competition that empowers student teams in grades 4-8 to address a critical issue and change the planet, just like National Geographic Explorers. Student teams create and present real-world solutions to real-world problems. Students gain skills in research, storytelling, videography, innovative design, mapmaking and collaboration. This year’s competition challenged students across the country to learn about and take action on the urgent issue of single-use plastic pollution in our waterways. This year’s theme aligns with National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic? initiative, which is raising awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. More than 1,000 solutions were submitted for this year’s competition.

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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.