What Maryland parents are saying about History Day
A student and her parents at Maryland History Day 2011
Queen Anne’s County History Day parent Robin DeMaso writes about the impact of History Day on her son and daughter. Her son Lou won first place in Queen Anne’s County twice with his documentaries on the inventor of the CT scanner and the Atomic Bomb. He also won the special prize in Ethics at the 2009 state competition one year. Her daughter Audrey has won first place twice in QA County. For her documentary on the impact the Chesapeake Bay Bridge had on the Eastern Shore Society, Audrey and her teammate received the 2010 special prize in Historic Preservation at the state contest, and for her documentary on the Debate on School Segregation, she won first place at the 2011 state competition and received the Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Award for Excellence in Government History. Audrey is currently studying the West Papuan people’s struggle for independence for the 2012 NHD theme of Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History.
My children have learned a vast array of skills by participating in National History Day. Not only are they learning research skills, but also a layered knowledge of topics, from the main topic to those infused with it. To grasp the school segregation debate, Audrey had to understand what the Supreme Court is, what it takes to amend the Constitution, and how lawyers operate. Writing and presentation skills are learned as time constraints are maintained and primary sources spliced in to support a point. Using the documentary format has taught my children software and voice-over skills as well. The impact this annual competition has made on my two kids alone is seemingly immeasurable, as the emotional strength and confidence found from a job well done cannot be calculated. Their academic achievements always exceed my expectations and their approach to homework projects is now technologically advanced. Where one student may write a report for an assignment, mine now download software, request museum trips, and find primary sources to get the grade.
Parents' comments about Maryland History Day from a 2011 survey:
It taught [my son] time management and project organization skills. This is the largest project he has worked on and he and his partner completed it over 5 months and many hours each week. The hardest part was setting a goal and figuring out how to reach it step by step and pace themselves. Time management was difficult, because he is a well rounded child who plays an instrument, plays several sports, and has chores/homework to complete other than working on his history fair exhibit. His partner is just as active so scheduling conflicts had to be worked out. He also learned to speak with confidence about his point of view and their topic to adults/judges.
As a student who attended a Math, Science, & Engineering magnet school, my daughter really needed an outlet for her interest in History. She was the only student in her high school who participated in NHD all four years. It was a perfect way for her to get a good balance between the disciplines. She was able to see the difference between scientific research and historical research. While she will be majoring in the sciences in college, she plans to continue taking social science courses. I believe this is a direct result of her participation in NHD.
I believe the experience was invaluable. The most positive impact that Maryland History Day had on my child was being able to have the opportunity to choose a topic that she was interested in and to be able to present that information in a format that allowed her to learn new skills. I also feel that some of the judges asked insightful questions. The ability to answer questions on the spot allowed all the students to gain experience in public speaking. Overall, the whole experience enabled students to participate in an activity that allowed them to explore a somewhat different set of skills than what is normally offered in the day to day routine at school.
Learning to do serious historical research, reading and analyzing difficult material, interacting with experts, taking responsibility for a big project and seeing it through, coming to love history. Maryland History Day is one of the most valuable educational opportunities available. Thank you!
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