History Fair Update: Analyzing and Creating

We’re just 26 days away from History Fair! As we’ve completed researching, this is what we have to do next:

  • Complete our Thesis Statements (due 3/2 – see below)
  • Find quality photos to use for our displays or presentation.
  • Design a great title for our displays (or other projects).
  • Create a beautiful, well organized presentation!

A thesis is the most important part of our displays. It tells the judges why your topic is important, and shows your ability to analyze all the facts you’ve collected. This should be around a paragraph long. Brief (5 sentences or so), but not so short it leaves out important info. When writing a thesis, we have these very simple steps:

  • Begin with your research question.
  • Answer your question!
  • What was life like before your historical event?
  • What happened – what WAS your event?
  • What happened as a result of your topic? How is life different?
  • All of this should explain why your topic is important, be important to IL history, and show some cause and effect. THIS is the analysis which becomes the backbone of your project.

Today I visited the National History Fair @ NIU in Dekalb. This fair comprised of schools in Northern IL, outside of Cook/DuPage. The directors of that Fair allowed me to explore the exhibits while they were being judged. Aside from seeing projects in peace, I got to overhear judges as they read displays:

  • “Men had many things women did not” one judge read. “LIKE WHAT?!” she cried! Clearly, the judges want captions and statements on the board to be CLEAR and specific. Don’t make vague comments. Which leads me to:
  • “The board should tell the story” one judge implored. (I had asked him “what is the most important thing for my students to know?”) For all the research and work students have done, don’t forget the most basic part of the project – tell the story!
  • “Why does this matter?” Again, I had asked the same question. We’ve drilled this and most of us are in great shape here.
  • “Walt Disney was born in Illinois, but did he do ANYTHING for Illinois?” This judge then specifically said the projects must show quality of analysis. Walt Disney was just a guy born here – there was no historical connection or significance.
  • “You can really tell how hard these students worked.” Let your board and your materials do justice to the work you’ve invested in this project.

I also noticed several other things about the best displays.

  • They waste little space, are organized, and have clear meaning.
  • They are neat – no curled edges or hastily put together sections.
  • Titles are clear.
  • Many had “bonus” materials next to the boards.
  • Many were creative displays – not even boards at all!

Here’s a few sample projects that I saw. What do you think of them?

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Lastly, here’s a slideshow of the past Fairs and their boards. This should be yet another series of examples help you understand exactly what you’re capable of: https://picasaweb.google.com/IL.HistoryFair