Now what? The dream of all NHD participants is to make it to the national competition in June, at the University of Maryland. How can you help them to shine at the state competition and achieve their ultimate goal?
The answer to that question is twofold, preparation is key, and yes, a bit of luck on April 29th! We really don’t know what stands out to an individual judge. It could be an interesting fact that the students uncovered in their research. Or, a quote that connects their thesis to their project, and strikes a personal connection. There is always a project that is a surprise, that at first glance most will pass by. I refer to these projects as the “sleepers.” They have been overlooked. It is not the project with all of the glitz, but the one that has answered the prompt and proved their thesis. It is generally simple and to the point. On a second, look this becomes obvious. It is hard sometimes to move past the glitz and artistry that some students are capable of producing. It is important to look deeper. To help students with this important next step, I offer this check list of suggestions:
- Take a step back and reread the rules and requirements for each division.
- Did you answer the prompt and include the theme as part of your thesis and conclusion?
- Is the theme actually stated or eluded to?
- Remember the basics, and what should be included in an NHD project for each division.
- Punctuation and proper grammar should be corrected before posting visually to an exhibit or website.
- Make sure your project is orderly, neat and to the point.
- Check all technical requirements.
- Are the video clips you are including within the time limit?
- Is the clip within your website self contained? Or is it a live stream? If it is downloaded correctly, the viewer will not be able to link to another source outside of your website.
- Exhibits should be neat and to the point.
- Are there too many words?
- Font size should be large enough to read from the floor looking up. As a rule, you should not use a font size less than 16, unless it is to credit a picture or article .
- Can the viewer of your exhibit, grasp your point quickly by just looking at your exhibit? Think about exhibits you have seen at a museum. What stands out to you? How did the professional create their exhibit to get their point across? What can you borrow from their expertise?
- Documentaries and performances need to be conscious of the 10 minute time limit. The narration should be easy to listen to, and as smooth as possible. Talking fast to add content, may take away from the overall project. Review the script to see if one or two sentences can be combined, or restated, to cut out enough time so the narration can be slowed down and easier to understand.
- Performances can review costuming and props to make sure they are historically correct and easy to change during the performance. Prop changes can add steps and time that might take away from the ten minute time limit.
Most of all, remember that National History Day is about the learning process. No matter whether students win an award or medal at the state competition, they are still winners! They have advanced their personal communication, research and writing skills, in addition to becoming an expert on their topics. They have expanded their personal knowledge base, which will remain with them for life!
Good luck to everyone on April 29th! I look forward to seeing all of you at Central Connecticut State University!!!!
- Sharon Wlodarczyk