Wave student competes against the world

Published 12:04 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral Elementary student Nicholas Waycaster placed third place in a state-wide geography bee in Jackson. Waycaster uses his iPad to study the globe.

By Mollie Beth Wallace

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Most children are excited to get their hands on an iPad and play the latest games, but sixth-grader Nicholas Waycaster, son of Joanne and Todd Waycaster of Natchez, found a better use for his tablet.

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Waycaster studied geography as part of the social studies curriculum at Cathedral Elementary, but with the help of his iPad, he said he began studying the world in his free time.

When Waycaster won Cathedral’s geography bee this year, his mother said she bought him a few National Geographic books to encourage him to study for the state geography bee.

“It was hard to get him to sit down and practice because it was basketball season,” his mother said. “And he would have rather been playing basketball.”

She said Nicholas preferred to study using the National Geographic application on his iPad, though he would often switch and play a basketball game now and then.

Only 12 years old, Waycaster competed in the state geography bee in Jackson against students as old as 14.

The easiest part for him, he said, is naming and placing all of the countries, but he got an unlucky draw at the state competition with a difficult question.

“They gave me a picture from Google earth of a volcano,” he said. “I didn’t know, so I guessed Indonesia. But it was the Philippines.”

Waycaster said it was a game of chance when he got on stage.

“Half the time the person in front of me gets an easy question that I know,” he said. “Then I get a hard one.”

He said his strategy when he is unsure of the answer is to think about the facts that he is sure of. For example, he knew that Indonesia has a lot of volcanoes, so he guessed that the volcano was there.

Even though his answer was a few islands off, Waycaster still placed third in the state bee.

“He was fun to watch,” his mother said. “He was smiling. He really enjoyed himself.”

When he’s not studying geography, Waycaster said he enjoys watching basketball games with his father.

Even though Nicholas has a few years to figure out where his interests will lead him, there’s no doubt that he will know exactly how to get there.