Love for learning: Shamrock Springs student qualifies for national academic competition


Anant Kamath has a curious mind.

A third-grader at Shamrock Springs, Anant, 9, spends much of his free time focused on academics. But to him, it’s not studying. It’s just fun.

“I like science,” Anant said. “I like knowing what things are made of, and I like knowing how things work. I like graphic novels, and I like when books are organized. If there is a book about animals, I like it if it says how tall the animals are, how heavy they are for every single animal.”

On Feb. 3, Anant applied his love of learning at the International Academic Competitions Science Bee and Geography Bee regional tournaments at Westfield Middle School. Not only did he qualify for nationals in both, but he was also the champion in the Science Bee.

“There is this exam online, so you do the exam, and if you get enough questions right you qualify for the regionals,” Anant said. “You go into a room and there are buzzers, and they start reading these paragraph questions. It narrows it down as the question goes, and if someone thinks they know the answer, they can buzz in and say the answer they think it is. If it’s correct, then they get a point.”

IAC was founded in 2010 by former “Jeopardy!” champion David Madden as an academic competition focused on history, geography, science and other academic disciplines for students in the New York City metropolitan area.

IAC has since grown into an international tournament with participation from students in more than 50 countries.

Anant’s mother, Surbhi Jagotta, said he has always been scientifically inclined.

“Even long before kindergarten, when he was 2 or 3 years old, he used to watch learning videos, what are the different elements, what are the states of the United States, what are different counties in the state?” Jagotta said. “Space, the planets, so he already had an inclination toward watching those kinds of videos.”

His parents said he also loved to learn about animals, the food chain and space.

“He loves reading a lot, and it increases his curiosity to read about things because he likes to read about many facts,” Jagotta added.

Anant is interested in the IAC’s History Bee as well but said it’s a tough competition. His parents agreed, noting that the questions are challenging even for adults.

“I practice with him a lot and the questions are definitely not elementary level,” Jagotta said. “For him, we said to just focus on one for now. Even for geography, I don’t know half of those questions. I love geography but I don’t know a lot of those questions because it’s not just geography, it’s complete social studies and cultural history.”

Anant’s father Subu Kamath said the family works to support his love of learning.

“We just try to feed into his inquisitiveness,” Kamath said.

Outside of school, Anant is on the robotics team, plays piano and enjoys games.

“I like playing board games and card games, like Uno and Sleeping Queens and War,” he said, adding that he also likes puzzle games, dice games and brain teasers.

Anant wants to grow academically.

“I like that we’re talking about World War II, the world wars in history, and we’re starting to get into a lot more topics that we weren’t covering before,” Anant said. “I think I want to take some different language classes, and then some classes about science. I also like math. I like all the different numbers and equations and stuff.  It’s like it burns my brain when there are all these different equations. Most of the regular math I’m seeing isn’t too hard but sometimes when I see those complex equations, sometimes it gets tough.”

This is the second year Anant has qualified for IAC nationals, which take place Memorial Day weekend in Orlando.

“I’m looking forward to going to the theme parks in Orlando,” Anant said. “I’m going to be excited for the souvenirs as well.”

Anant Kamath geography bee CIW 0227
Anant Kamath, 9, is an academic leader at Shamrock Springs Elementary School. The third-grader will travel to Orlando in May to compete in the Geography Bee and the Science Bee with International Academic Competitions. (Photo by Marney Simon)

International Academic Competitions

WHAT: International Academic Competitions, founded in 2010 by 19-day “Jeopardy!” champion David Madden, is an international academic tournament that gives students from around the world the chance to compete in history, geography, science, and other academic disciplines.

HOW IT WORKS: IAC offers regional, national, and international competitions for students in grades K-12, including the National History Bee, National History Bowl, National Geography Bee, National Science Bee, and others. The goal of the competitions is to enrich the lives of children by giving them the incentive to study hard and foster a lifelong love of learning.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Students can take an online regional qualifying exam for the National History Bee, National Science Bee, and/or National Geography Bee. In addition, IAC offers team competitions, Political Science Bee and Introduction to Model United Nations. For more, visit