Newsletter: August - 2013

As the summer comes to a close, we hope all of you have made the best of the last couple months. The NSF Finals, to be held in Durham, North Carolina, from August 17-18, are rapidly approaching, and we are sure to see hundreds of students shine like stars, demonstrating their hard work and intelligence. NSF is extremely proud of all of its students and what they have accomplished.

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Over the years, our bee participants have informed us of many great achievements, and several have been interviewed for this newsletter. NSF students have been successful across the academic spectrum, with outstanding rankings in the National Geographic Bee, Mathcounts, the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Jeopardy, and the SATs.

We are certain there are many more successes to come, and would like to wish all of our participants luck in the Finals along with all other future endeavors. In this issue, you will find an interview with Sathwik Karnik,winner the 2013 National Geographic Bee. We have also included a roundup of NSF youth who have excelled in various academic contests, as well as an update on NSF India Scholarships.
Once again, we wish all our families the best rest of summer. To NSF kids and parents alike, keep up the good work! We know every single one of your efforts will pay off in whatever field interests you.
Shrinidhi Thirumalai
NSF Newsletter Editorial Team Member
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From NSF's creation of US educational contests in 1993, its mission has always been to bring out the academic potential of all its students. Since each NSF contest is designed to resemble other popular competitions in the same subject area, we believe it encourages students to study for and participate in the other contests as well. For example, by studying for NSF's spelling bee, a child is also studying for Scripps, and vice versa.

As the years have gone by, more and more NSF students have excelled in various competitions. Recently, in addition to spelling and geography, NSF students have begun to do well in other math competitions as well, a success we are extremely glad to see. Especially this year, NSF has heard of dozens of students winning competitions in various fields. These students are recognized by subject below:

Scripps National Spelling Bee:
1st Place Champion: Arvind Mahankali, from Long Island, NY is the 2013 Scripps Champion
3rd Rank: Sriram J. Hathwar - Rochester
5th Rank: Vanya Shivashankar – Kansas City
5th Rank: Vismaya J. Kharkar – Salt Lake City
7th Rank: Chetan G. Reddy – Dallas
7th Rank: Syamantak Payra – Houston
11th Rank: Nikitha Chandran – Tampa
Rudd''s National Elementary School Spelling Bee:
Arjav Rawal, a 5th grader from San Jose chapter, won Rudd's National Elementary School Spelling Bee

Natonal Geographic Bee:
1st Place Champion: Sathwik Karnik is the National Geo Bee champion from the Worcester chapter
3rd Place: Sanjeev Uppaluri, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Atlanta, GA, $10,000 college scholarship
4th Place: Akhil Rekulapelli, a 12-year-old seventh-grader, from Virginia, $1,000
Others in the top 10:
Pranit Nanda, 7th grade, Aurora Quest K-8 School, Aurora, CO
Neha Middela, 6th grade, Detroit Country Day School, Beverly Hills, MI
Harish Palani, 7th grade, Stoller Middle School, Portland, OR
Asha Jain, 7th grade, MHLT Elementary School, Minocqua, WI

MATHCOUNTS National Finals:
Ashwin Sah, from Portland chapter, won the 2nd Rank for the second year in a row at the 2013 MATHCOUNTS National Finals
International Junior Balkan Mathematics Olympiad (JBMO):
Ashwin Sah, Swapnil Garg, and Ankan Bhattacharya were selected to represent USA as part of the USA team.
Multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals are given at the event based on scores. Ashwin Sah won gold while Swapnil Garg and Ankan Bhattacharya won bronze medals.

Nilai Sarda, from Atlanta chapter, won $26,400 with a third-place finish in the "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament

SAT Perfect Score by an 8th Grader - a Record
Varun Jain, an 8th Grader from San Ramon chapter, had a perfect 2400 on SAT. According to the College Board, this has never been done before by a middle school student in 8th Grade and is a National record.

Congratulations to all our winners! We are very glad to see NSF students' hard work paying off, and are excited to hear about more students excelling in the future in even more subject fields.
Shrinidhi Thirumai
NSF Newsletter Editorial Team Member
Sathwik Karnik, a longtime NSF participant who took 3rd place in the 2012 NSF Senior Geography Bee Finals, recently won the 2013 National Geographic Bee, hosted by Alex Trebek. NSF interviewed the newly crowned champion for his take on his experiences with the Geographic Bee. Sathwik's brother Karthik was also a finalist in the National Geographic Bee in 2011 and 2012.

Ramya: Congrats on your victory and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us!
Sathwik: Thanks for conducting this interview about my win.

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Ramya: Tell us a little about yourself.
Sathwik: I am Sathwik Karnik, the 2013 National Geographic Bee Champion. I am 13 years old from Plainville and will be attending 8th grade next year at King Philip Regional Middle School in Norfolk, MA.

Ramya: When did you first get interested in participating in the NGB?
Sathwik: I got interested in 2008 when we watched the National Finals that year. Just seeing Alex Trebek hosting the finals made me want to meet him in person. That inspired me, so I began learning with my brother, Karthik.

Ramya: Did you use any special study techniques? Any tips or tricks you can share with our readers?
Sathwik: Geography is not a subject to be simply memorized. Rather, it is a vast subject that connects people, places, and culture. There is no definite end to the subject. Understanding a fact is far better than memorizing the fact and hoping to spit it out in 12 seconds.

Ramya: Would you recommend any special books or journals for people interested in competing in the NGB?
Sathwik: I would recommend a beginner to start by learning through atlases and other various guides. To reinforce that, I would recommend using the geography guide, 1001 Geography Questions and Answers that will help you win Again and Again, to begin with. You can also find great questions from Ram Iyer's Geography Bee Simplified and Geography Bee Demystified. As far as atlases, I would recommend mostly National Geographic Atlases.

Ramya: Did you ever anticipate winning first place? If yes, at what point did you realize that you might do so?
Sathwik: I prepared well, but since the subject is so vast and diverse, you cannot anticipate victory until the final moment. I had already been a point up after my opponent missed the second question in the championship round. So, as soon as Alex Trebek read the final question, I knew that I had won the bee because the last question was a known fact to me. That was when I knew that I would clinch the title.

Ramya: What was your favorite part about the Bee?
Sathwik: Obviously, my favorite part was winning! Meeting Alex Trebek was like a dream come true. Also, there were many fun and exciting trips we made throughout the DC area with the other state winners and their families.

Ramya: Do you have any stories to share about meeting celebrities like Alex Trebek?
Sathwik: Like many others, Alex Trebek told me, in the green room, that I was "very soft-spoken."

Ramya: What role did your family play in your Bee prep?
Sathwik: My mom and brother would always look up interesting geography facts and would try to stump me. Also, my family was very supportive of me each step of the way.

Ramya: What are your hobbies? What do you do in spare time?
Sathwik: My hobbies include playing chess, tennis, and reading.

Ramya: Where do you see yourself in, say, fifteen years from now?
Sathwik: I see myself as a research doctor.

Ramya: Tell us about your association with NSF.
Sathwik: I have participated in the NSF contests since 2nd grade and have placed in the top ten most years in geography. In fact, last year I placed third in Senior Geography Bee.

Ramya: Any words of wisdom for our young readers and parents?
Sathwik: I would encourage parents to help the student in geography whenever they can. Also, for the students, geography is really a cool subject and is very important to learn. You will love subject once you begin learning just like me!
Good luck to all participants in the future geography bees!

Ramya Auroprem
NSF Newsletter Team Member
Every time a child in the United States participates in a North South Foundation educational bee, workshop, or online course, another child in India benefits. Based on merit and financial need, NSF provides scholarships to undergraduate students in engineering, medicine, 3-year polytechnic, BVSc, BSc Ag, and B Pharma courses. What started off as one scholarship in 1989 has reached 2,037 scholarships in 2013 - and that number is still growing. Over the past 24 years, NSF has provided more than 7,000 scholarships in order to help students receive the higher education they deserve.
S. Vijayakumar, a 3rd year scholar from NSF's Madurai chapter, expressed heartfelt thanks for the financial support he received from an NSF scholarship:

"I am a NSF scholar studying in 2nd year B.E (EEE) at Anna University of Technology, BIT Campus, Tiruchirappalli. I am going to 3rd year now. College education was a distant dream for me when I passed my 12th examination, because of the economic backwardness of my family. I belong to a lower middle class family comprising five members. Family is maintained by my father who earns a meager amount through selling of sweet meats. If today I am a college student, it is all because of NSF and NSF only. Thanks to the timely award of scholarship I could get into my studies with full confidence and no fear of economic problems. The result is I could secure A grade in the first year, and I am waiting for the results of 4th semester and hope to maintain and improve my performance… I admire the ideals of NSF and I assure that I shall follow suit and support bright and poor students, once I get settled in my life with a decent job."
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The scholarship process begins at the chapter level in India with an announcement inviting eligible students to apply for scholarships. Each India chapter has a coordinator, a volunteer responsible for all activities from forming selection committees, reviewing applications, and interviewing applicants to presenting the scholarship checks at awards ceremonies. ICCs (India Chapter Coordinators) work closely with their US counterparts – volunteers known as "liaisons" who figure out ways to spread the word to applicants. Liaisons also facilitate meetings between scholars and interested US donors.
   Chapter Fresh Renewal Total
1  Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh 101 114 215
2  Tanuku, Andhra Pradesh 5 4 9
3  Vizag, Andhra Pradesh 5 3 8
4  Guwahati, Assam - 3 3
5  Patna, Bihar 9 6 15
6  Chandigarh, Chandigarh - 5 5
7  Bhavnagar, Gujarat 1 1 2
8  Bangalore, Karnataka 83 118 201
9  Mysore, Karnataka* 5 5
10  Kochi, Kerala 14 15 29
11  Pune, Maharashtra 51 81 132
12  Bhubaneswar, Orissa 346 272 618
13  Patiala, Punjab - 7 7
14  Jodhpur, Rajasthan 75 66 141
15  Chennai, Tamil Nadu 90 132 222
16  Madurai, Tamil Nadu 80 95 175
17  Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu 5 18 23
18  Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh* 2 2
19  Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh 29 10 39
20  Kolkata,West Bengal 100 81 181
   On-line Direct 5 - 5
  TOTAL 1006 1031 2037
* New Chapter
Sri Ramanathan Iyer offered the following commentary on his experience as an ICC for NSF's Madurai chapter:

"As an NSF coordinator for more than a decade I have benefited immensely through interaction with the younger generation and their motivation. I could see the impact of our support on the students, coming from an economically backward background, who were able to lift their families above the poverty line thanks to NSF. To be a member of NSF’s team in their massive exercise to identify deserving bright and poor students, and develop them to be fit for lucrative jobs, is something great. The immense happiness that I derive from this humanitarian service is beyond description and has no parallel."
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NSF is ready to start the 2013-14 scholarships season with a goal of giving 1250 scholarships to first year students and renewing all current scholarships.

Find out more about our program at

If you'd like to connect to a chapter in India or help start a new chapter send us an email at
NSF Scholarships Team
Do you have a story, poem, essay, or some artwork to share? Send your submissions to! In addition to your entry, please include a scanned photograph of yourself and the name of your school, your hometown, grade level, and hobbies. We will try to include it in our next newsletter.

NSF Newsletter Team

Newsletter Team:Shrinidhi Thirumalai, Sukanya Roy, Ramya Auroprem, Madhav Durbha, Ferdine Silva, and Vignesh Kumar


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