Twenty-two seventh and eighth graders from Central Middle School attended the State National History Day competition the week of April 18.
On May 1, the winners were announced, and six of the eighth-grade students will be advancing to the national competition in June. This is the highest number of students Eden Prairie has ever sent there.
The first National History Day was held in 1980. Each year over 500,000 students from across the country compete by creating academic research projects. Each year has its own theme. The 2021-2022 contest asked students to pursue research centered around the idea of “Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.”
Each student selects a topic that fits within the theme and then prepares a presentation of their research and an annotated bibliography. Students can then select from multiple different kinds of presentations. These include research papers, exhibits, a short performance, a website, or a video documentary.
All seventh and eighth graders in advanced social studies at CMS participate in National History Day. The competition is a major part of the curriculum, and the students focus on it for nine weeks in the second quarter of the year. Over 15,000 students across the state compete at the school level. Next, several students advance to regionals, and finally, 800 make it to state. In between each level of competition, students can add to and improve their projects.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions meant this year’s students did not get the typical National History Day experience. Normally the classes visit the Minneapolis Central Library as a field trip. Regionals would have been held at CMS but instead were hosted virtually. The state competition is usually held in person at the University of Minnesota, while the national competition is held in Washington, D.C. These events also are eschewing in-person gatherings in favor of online submissions.
The EP projects in contention on the national level this year are a diverse set of topics.
Nico Allen is submitting his website titled “Under Compulsion: Did Denmark’s Post-World War II Demining Violate the Geneva Convention.”
Spandan Datta and Paras Nemani are submitting a group documentary called “Uncertain Journeys and Displaced Roots: The Kashmir Conflict.”
Shaurya Gumma, Devanshu Shah, and Sid Shiva have their group documentary titled “Moon Dust and Black Disgust: The Forgotten Opposition to the Apollo Space Program.”
“Making it through history day has become a badge of honor for students,“ says Patti Cwodzinski, the eighth grade advanced social studies teacher at CMS. “The program has really been building, with more and more of our students advancing from regionals to state to nationals.”
Cwodzinski spoke highly of the project-based nature of the competition and the autonomy it gives students. “The sense of accomplishment students gain after doing such a big project is unmatched,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest projects they will do in middle school.”
The six students will find out how they did on June 18, when the winning projects are announced.