Geography whiz kid from San Carlos finds route to success 

After years of obsessing over globes and everything geography, San Carlos whiz kid Tuvya Bergson-Michelson has put himself on the map.

The fourth-grader at Hillsborough’s The Nueva School will take part in the finals of the National Geographic Bee on May 24-25 in Washington, D.C., after earning the state title in March.

Despite beating out older students for the national spot, the 10-year-old didn’t gloat about his success.

“I was surprised to have gotten that far,” he said of his championship run at the state finals. “I kept breathing to calm myself. It really helped.”

With 54 contestants vying for the first-place $25,000 scholarship prize, Bergson-Michelson didn’t mind sharing his secret for success.

He described how half of his brain listens to the entire geography test question so he won’t “miss anything,”
while the other half zeroes in on possible clues and facts that may unlock the answer.

“I don’t know how it happens,” he admits. “I don’t make it happen. It’s just something my brain does.”

Entranced with Africa, Bergson-Michelson sees himself working in international development.

“I’m fascinated by how it works,” he said. “The problems and obstacles they have to face … I think that’s what led to Africa being one of my favorite regions.”

His adoration for the world around him began when, at age 4, his great-grandmother gave him a globe for Thanksgiving. After that, he devoured maps and atlases for “hours and hours on end,” said his father, Nathaniel.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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