About the Challenge
Canadian Geographic Education launched the Canadian Geographic Challenge (formerly the Great Canadian Geography Challenge) in 1995 as a way to get students interested in geography. Since then, the challenge has grown from 20 participating schools to more than 500, and has reached more than two million students across Canada.
Now in its 26th year, the competition is continuously evolving, melding traditional learning styles with geographic literacy skills and new technology. The support of the Trebek Family Foundation has meant the competition can continue to be accessible, relevant and engaging for all students.
The challenge comprises three levels to reach a wide age range. The questions in the Classroom and School rounds are written for Level 1 and 2 respectively (i.e., the rounds are tailored to each age group).
Level 1 is open to students in grades 4-6. It focuses on developing fundamental geographic facts and skills and igniting passion in students’ early academic careers.
Students participate in the Classroom and School rounds, finishing the competition by naming one School Champion. All School Champions receive a certificate, a medal and a one-year magazine subscription to Canadian Geographic.
Level 2 encourages students in grades 7-10 to push the limits of their geographic knowledge and apply their geographic thinking skills.
The competition begins with the Classroom round and progresses to the School round to name a School Champion. The School Champion is then invited to compete in the Provincial/Territorial round.
Of the Provincial/Territorial winners, a total of 20 of Canada's best geography students will be invited to participate in the National Final in May 2021. In the past, the National Final has been held at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society headquarters at 50 Sussex, in Ottawa, Ont. This is subject to change in accordance with safety precautions for COVID-19. More information about the National Final will be released closer to the date.
Level 2 School Champions receive a certificate, a medal and a one-year magazine subscription to Canadian Geographic. The Provincial/Territorial champions receive a prize package. National finalists receive prizes for first, second and third place. National Final prizes are subject to change on a year-by-year basis. The Can Geo Challenge Committee reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value for any of the contest prizes.
Level 3 is open to all students who are between 16 to 19 years old (before June 30, 2021), who reside in Canada. The competition is split into phases.
Phase 1: The first phase is an online test consisting of 75 multiple-choice and true-or-false questions, which students must complete in one sitting. Scores will not be shared with participants under any circumstances.
Phase 2: The second phase of the competition will be a written test. The top twenty students from phase 1 will be contacted with additional information about this phase of the competition. This test will be written online and is similar to what students have to write at the International level. It will encourage students to think critically about one or more geographical topics and respond to them.
Phase 3: The third phase of the competition will be a written fieldwork project. The top ten students from phase 2 will be contacted with additional information about the third phase of the competition. The third phase of the competition will be submitted online and marked by a team of Can Geo Education teachers based on a rubric that will be made available to all participating students.
The top six students from the third phase will be selected and interviewed by the Team Canada leaders, who will be accompanying the team and getting them ready for the International Geography Olympiad. The goal of the interview is to determine the student's commitment level and how they would fit into the team dynamic. Four students will be selected to join Team Canada.
PLEASE NOTE: This year's International Geography Olympiad will be held virtually in summer 2021. Any additional information will be provided to Team Canada once the team has been selected.
Although the Canadian competition is available in both English and French, the International Geography Olympiad is only administered in English. Therefore, students selected for Team Canada must be proficient and comfortable testing in English.