Nijar Janga, an eighth-grader from Texas, celebrates his win May 22 in the 2019 National Geographic GeoBee. Nihar won the contest in a tiebreaker. Second place went to Atreya Mallana, a sixth-grader from Massachusetts. (Mark Thiessen)

In a sudden-death round, a question about a plateau in northern Norway decided the winner of the National Geographic GeoBee on Wednesday in Washington. Texas eighth-grader Nihar Janga’s answer of “Finnmark plateau” earned him the win and a prize of $25,000 in scholarship money.

The GeoBee is an annual competition that tests students’ knowledge of world geography and its changes throughout history. Winners representing 54 states and territories earned a spot in this week’s national contest.

Students had to go through preliminary and semifinal rounds, in which they fielded questions about topics such as geographic landscapes, climate change and geopolitics.

In second place was Atreya Mallana, a sixth-grader from Massachusetts. After a round focused on maps, Rishi Kumar, an eighth-grader from Ellicott City, Maryland, was declared the third-place winner. Second- and third-place winners received a $10,000 and $5,000 college scholarship, respectively.

The competition is part of National Geographic’s goal to teach kids about the world and how it works. Students in grades four through eight from nearly 10,000 schools participate annually in the GeoBee tournament. According to National Geographic, about 120 million students have learned about the world by competing in the GeoBee since it began in 1988.

National Geographic also hosted its annual GeoChallenge, a project-based tournament that challenges students to solve a real-world problem. This year’s theme was about tackling plastic pollution in our waterways. The GeoChallenge finalists are from New York, Missouri and Texas.

The Navigators, a team of four fifth-graders from Flushing Christian School in New York, were the youngest winners in the competition. Their first-place project aims to clean the Hudson River to protect fish species from microplastics using a vacuum system. The fifth-graders received a prize of $25,000 and guidance on their project from the National Geographic team.