Published Sunday, February 24, 2013

Maps, books and Scooby-Doo: Linking knowledge key to Anderson's success

By REBECCA LEFTWICH

rebecca@newnan.com

Paul Anderson never knows when an old Scooby Doo episode may come in handy.

Anderson – who recently became the first three-time winner of Arnall Middle School’s annual Geography Bee – said he once correctly answered a question about Paris because of a small fact he remembered from a cartoon about those meddling kids and their dog. That’s important, according to the 13-year-old, because linking knowledge and experiences fosters a broader understanding of the world.

“If you have 15 things attached to a chain that you can mentally see, it’s a lot easier to grab the chain than it is to grab the 15 things individually,” said Anderson, whose parents, Vaughn and Toni, have encouraged his love of reading, nature and history by taking him to places like Pittsburgh, Boston, Gettysburg and Gatlinburg.

“I love social studies, and just looking at maps, looking at other places and imagining what they are like,” said Anderson, whose “massive pile” of reading materials ranges from books by Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan – whom he admits he’d like to meet someday – to “a little pamphlet of the Constitution.”

He may be an honor student, a member of Boy Scout Troop 209 and Peachtree City Church of Christ, a voracious reader, a lover of the outdoors and an enthusiastic visitor of historical sites, but Anderson also is a competitor.

“I love competing,” said Anderson, who is a member of Arnall’s Academic Bowl team, his church’s Bible Bowl team and a recent winner on the county and regional levels for his science project, Musical Math II. “Before every single competition, whether I feel good about it or not, I get butterflies. But once it starts, I’m fine.”

Anderson said he always is learning.

“It’s never bad to have more knowledge,” he said. “You never know when something’s going to come up. I learn hundreds and hundreds of things I didn’t know every day. And then all of the sudden, you relate that to that to that and come up with a solution to a problem.”

To always be open to new experiences and new information – and to read everything available – is advice worth passing along to other students.

“You should find what you like, then find something else you like and figure out how they connect,” Anderson said. “If you do that and teach yourself to love reading, you’ll be able to learn like never before.”

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