Girl, 6, is youngest in Spelling Bee
By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Wed May 30, 2012
Lori Anne Madison hopes to be an astrobiologist and Olympic swimmer
- The second-grader is one of 278 competitors this year
- This year's bee is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday
- Spellers range between ages 6 and 15
(CNN) -- When Lori Anne Madison, 6, takes the stage Wednesday, she will be stepping into history as the youngest person to compete in the National Spelling Bee.
The second-grader joins 277 other contestants, marking a milestone as the youngest competitor in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to the event's record books dating to 1993.
Since 1993, there have been four spellers who were 8 years old, said Mike Hickerson, the bee's communications manager.
Lori Anne beat out 21 kids in the regional bee in Prince William County in Virginia, earning a spot in the national bee.
She won by spelling the word "vaquero," the Spanish translation of "cowboy" often used in parts of the South.
While she loves spelling, Lori Anne has other interests as well.
She likes to study while swinging upside down or jumping on her trampoline, according to her bio on the event's website. She's also a competitive swimmer, has won math and science awards, and takes karate, dance and tennis classes.
This year's bee is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
A total of 278 young spellers are competing for a series of prizes, including a $30,000 cash prize, an engraved trophy, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a $5,000 scholarship.
Spellers range between ages 6 and 15, and come from all 50 states and U.S. territories. They also include competitors from other nations including China, Canada, Ghana and Japan.
The preliminary competition starts Wednesday morning with championship finals scheduled for Thursday night.
The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 under a collaboration among nine newspapers. In 1941, Scripps assumed sponsorship of the event.
It was not held during the war years between 1943-45.