National Civics Bee, a civics knowledge competition organized by the Civic Trust, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is expanding to nine states in 2023.
Modeled off the concept of a traditional spelling bee, it is an opportunity for middle school students to show off their civics knowledge. After a successful 2022 pilot with local and state chambers of commerce, this year’s expanded program will include Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, with the ultimate goal being expansion across the United States.
“It is our goal to encourage the next generation to get involved in their communities and have an appreciation for our roles, rights and responsibilities. We hope the Civics Bee aspires civic participation in middle school students across the state.”
-President of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Ashli Watts, as they completed the National Civics Bee’s pilot program in May,2022.
As documented in this newsletter before, civics education could use a boost: "only 51% of Americans were able to name all three branches of government (Annenberg Public Policy Center), 52% of Americans can’t name a Supreme Court Justice (C-SPAN / PSB 2018 Supreme Court Survey), and a Woodrow Wilson Foundation study found that the majority of Americans would fail a U.S. citizenship test."
The National Civics Bee aims to be part of the solution by engaging the hearts and minds of middle schoolers and sparking civic engagement in their communities. The first round of the Bee has middle school students submit an essay to their local participating chamber of commerce about how an engaged citizen might be able to solve a local challenge. Judges then select 20 finalists to participate in a live civics quiz competition. Questions might include, “How many Supreme Court Justices are there?” or “How long does it take to become a naturalized citizen of the United States?” The top 3 students from each local competition advance to the state competition where they are asked questions about their essay by a panel of judges. You can read about some of the past winners here.
Local chambers of commerce in the nine participating states are now accepting essay entries, the deadline is February 24th.
You can test your own civics knowledge with this quiz from The Civic Trust.