The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay celebrated its 10th year of hosting early rounds of the National History Day competition Saturday, April 14, welcoming nearly 400 area high school students for one of seven Wisconsin regional events.
The Northeastern Wisconsin History Day competition started small in 2003, after UW-Green Bay Prof. Andrew Kersten was awarded a Teaching American History grant. Coordinated by the Cofrin Library Archives, the first competition drew 76 students from five schools. The 2012 contest brought nearly 400 high school students, representing 18 schools from across the region.
“Our regional National History Day event is now the signature history event in Northeastern Wisconsin,” said Kersten, chair of UW-Green Bay’s department of Democracy and Justice Studies. “Our hope was to create an event that showcased student achievement in history. It has grown far beyond my initial hopes.”
More than 3,000 students have participated in the annual competition since its inception, presenting a wide variety of projects that pertain to their research interests. The 2012 event featured topics including Elvis Presley, Coca-Cola, the Great Depression, the Titanic, Jackie Robinson, child labor and Steve Jobs. Several projects focused specifically on Wisconsin history, including those on the Kohler Company, Ringling Brothers Circus, McCarthyism and more. Interspersed with better-known subjects were projects on individuals such as Milwaukee-born Tom Blake, who is credited with being the father of modern surfing.
Winners from the Northeastern Wisconsin National History Day contest, one of seven regional events held statewide in March and April, will participate in the May 4 state competition in Madison. State winners advance to the national competition, held in June in Washington DC. Finalists are named in categories including paper and individual and group exhibits, performance and website.
For those involved, it’s a surefire way to make history come alive.
“Our National History Day event not only allows young history students to display their abilities and passions,” Kersten said, “but it also provides an opportunity for teachers to help their students dig deeply in historical materials and develop original interpretations of the past.”
See attached document (PDF) for a complete list of Northeastern Wisconsin regional finalists. For more information on National History Day in Northeastern Wisconsin, visit www.uwgb.edu/nationalhistoryday/. To find out more about the state competition, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org/teachers/historyday.