National History Day 2011 Finals
Tuesday: Senior Division Presentations
Tuesday was a very
pleasant day for presentations.
Greetings! Team Wisconsin is having a great time at the national contest and we have become quite popular with other states who are looking for our cheeseheads and cow garb.
Today was the day for the Senior Division students to present their projects to judges. All the students were relieved and excited to share their months of hard work. We joined families and teachers in cheering on the students' accomplishments at each of their presentations. More excitement came when final round selections were announced and Brianna & Charlie were chosen to move on to the next level of competition with their group performance on the Bennett Law. They will present their project Wednesday morning for final round judges.
Many members of Team Wisconsin supported the two students who presented their individual projects in the Junior final rounds this evening. Great job Julia & Sam!
Much sightseeing is being done by those students who have already competed and we are all enjoying the unseasonably cool temperatures. Great experiences are being had by all! Check back tomorrow for more as we meet Senator Kohl and experience a special evening at the National Museum of American History!
Posted at 7:00 PM
Emily from Random Lake
Emily after performing as
Mary Todd Lincoln.
Emily has been hooked on Abraham Lincoln since she was in third grade. When it came time to choose a topic for National History Day, she immediately knew that she wanted to explore a Lincoln-related project. After exploring topics related to the 2011 NHD theme, "Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences," she finally settled on "the debate surrounding slavery and the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation through the eyes of the wife of the president, Mary Todd Lincoln.
Researching and putting together her individual performance introduced Emily to a wide variety of resources. Books and historical documents took on new meaning as she visited the museum in Springfield and worked with experts. "Some of the best experiences I have had while creating my project are creating relationships with people I have met. I have had the pleasure of meeting renowned Mary Lincoln re-enactor Pam Brown. Throughout the whole National History Day process Pam has become my Mary Lincoln mentor."
Emily's project explores more than just the biography of Mary Lincoln's life. "The consequence of the debate over slavery is what ultimately led our nation to a civil war. Through all the loss, heartache and tragedy of war, in the end, the war turned out to be a success as the country was reunited and slavery was abolished." In addition to a greater understanding of this particular topic in history, Emily feels that National History Day has had a positive impact on her as a student. "I have always loved history, but National History Day gave me a chance to explore my love even more."
Posted at 7:01 PM
Sam from Milwaukee
Sam, on left, competed
in the final round
of judging Tuesday.
Sam's documentary is about the debate over the influence of comic books on juvenile delinquency in the 1940s and 1950s. This debate "seems to have been particularly frenzied and fear-based," Sam says. "The 1950s were a decade of fear – fear of the bomb, communism and juvenile delinquency." To some, says Sam, comic books were viewed "as a threat to America's youth."
Like many students, Sam started researching a broader topic, and then stumbled upon references to a more narrow debate. Sam persisted through the challenges of historical research to find unique and informative sources. "There were two primary documents that I had a hard time finding – the video footage of Mr. Gaines testifying at the Senate hearings and the 1940 Sterling North newspaper article. I searched in many places for those and finally finding them was very satisfying to me."
Sam saw a clear connection in this topic to the theme of debate in history. He clearly defined the consequences for those on either side of the debate. Says Sam, "The outcome was a failure for comic book publishers, those employed by the comic book industry, and comic book fans. It was a success for those who viewed comic books as a threat to America's youth and wanted to cleanse the industry."
Posted at 8:53 PM
Julia from Milwaukee
was selected to compete
in the final round of judging
in the Junior Division.
Through her National History Day project, Julia was able to achieve something truly unique – an interview with Captain James Lovell, commander of Apollo 13. In addition to meeting one of her personal idols, Julia knew that he would be the perfect source for her NHD project. "After many months of carefully drafted emails and corresponding with Captain Lovell and his assistant, I had the great honor to interview him in person for 90 minutes. He is truly an amazing person who shared many personal experience with me that helped develop my project and performance."
Using this one-of-a-kind source, Julia's performance focuses on "the diplomatic angle of the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States. My goal was to find out the real drive and motive for going to the moon." As she uncovered more primary and secondary sources, Julia began to understand the widespread significance of this topic in history. "The race to the moon not only changed the perception of the United States in the world overnight, it also propelled our country into a new era of technology and reshaped our education system."
While her interview with Captain Lovell will always stand out as influential, her NHD experience has also changed Julia in other ways. "NHD has greatly helped me improve my research skills, time management and goal-setting skills… it changed my view on history because it taught me that events may not be what they seem on the surface. You need to dig deeper to truly understand history."
Posted at 9:01 PM
Brenna, Bailey and Gretchen, Senior Group Documentary, Kimberley
Brenna, Bailey and Gretchen
before the viewing
of their documentary.
Brenna, Bailey, and Gretchen combined their documentary making expertise for their 2011 NHD project. Gretchen states that "Our NHD project is a documentary about the history and eventual fall of the Berlin Wall, and consequently the socialist German democratic Republic, in 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall had an immense impact on relations between the democratic, capitalist Western world and the communist nations of Eastern Europe. It signified the demise of communism and a huge social, political, and economic shift in the world."
By scouring libraries, archives, and other research resources, they assembled a strong bibliography of primary and secondary research on the subject. They conducted interviews and pulled their analysis together into their documentary.
While they enjoyed the actual process of putting together a documentary, they understand how the NHD experience has impacted their life in other ways. Bailey states, "I have always loved history, but through NHD have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of its importance and impact on the future. NHD has challenged me to analyze events and come to my own conclusions, a crucial life skill."
For Gretchen, the NHD process has even influenced her college decision. "The entire process of researching and learning about history has enlightened me to the small stories in history that have a major impact. My continued involvement in history has also helped in my decision to pursue a history degree in college."
Posted at 9:14 PM
Chamila, Senior Individual Documentary, Sheboygan
Chamila's family came all
the way to Maryland
to participate in History Day.
For her 2011 NHD individual documentary, Chamilia chose to look at the League of Nations and its implications on diplomacy. She says, "The League of Nations is important in history because it was the first international organization that strived for peace. We can learn from the League's successes and failures and work to achieve the League's goals. "
As a second-time national finalist, Chamila has experience in the documentary category giving her a chance to write a script for her documentary that incorporates visual elements such as video, photos, and music to go along with the research she is presenting in the 10 minute project. She says, "It was fun for me to think of an interesting and entertaining screenplay for my documentary."
One part of NHD that Chamila enjoys is the unlimited ability to choose a topic and research it in-depth based on your own interest. Because of this choice, Chamila says, "I was able to gain profound knowledge on many different aspects of the League of Nations; its formation, successes, failures, debates, diplomacy, and impact."
Chamilia makes a strong argument about the meaning of exploring history I her life, "Learning history doesn't mean memorizing dates; it means learning about past events and applying this knowledge to current-day situations."
Posted at 9:19 PM
Caroline and Annie, Junior Group Documentary, Wauwatosa
Caroline and Annie after
showing their documentary.
Caroline and Annie created a documentary together that highlights the work of Jimmy Carter and his goal to create peace in the Middle East. Their research brought them a collection of visual materials to include in their documentary that show the needs for peace talks as well as the impact this event had on diplomacy. Caroline noted, "Our topic is important in history because it established peace in between Egypt and Israel and showcased how various leaders could negotiate. This has proven to be an example of diplomatic resolution."
When asked about their best experience while creating their documentary Caroline said it was, "Being able to have such great interviews such as Senator Kohl, Professor Donohue, and Jody Hirsh. These interviews helped us understand some of the concepts in the Middle East."
This topic is very complex and has lasting impact on history for decades, including current events. Caroline explains by saying, "This History Day project helped me understand the Middle East issues. Timing of this project happened just prior to the Egyptian revolution this past January. Because of our Camp David documentary I was able to understand what was going on in the news and could relate with current conflicts. "
Posted at 10:49 PM
Rachel and Alex, Senior Group Performance, Glendale
The girls and Mom
after their performance.
"Justice Harry Blackmun: Law and Medicine in Roe v. Wade" is a senior group performance collaboration between two sisters, Rachel and Alex. They initially decided to focus on a court case and eventually decided focus women's rights. They finally settled on the topic of Roe v. Wade because the "legality of abortion is widely discussed and we wanted to be able to speak knowledgeably about the subject."
Completing their project inspired Rachel and Alex to dig deeper into research resources than ever before. "History Day was the first real project that required us to go out and research beyond just the Internet or a library. We spent a lot of time talking to people and doing interviews… I used to just look stuff up on the Internet; now I take the time to track down accurate reading material."
Their hard work and in-depth research paid off as they crafted their argument into a performance. Their project "is a performance with two characters; a clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun and a librarian at the Mayo Clinic. They discuss the legal and medical aspects of the case on the day after the decision." After wall their work to put the performance together, Rachel and Alex reflect that "History Day was definitely a worthwhile experience."
Posted at 10:56 PM