Planning for Success: Using Mock-ups to Design a Product

I typically wait until late January or early February to begin the design process. download (1)However, I want to emphasize the design process when it comes to building a product, and give time for ambitious ideas to take shape. The only downside is that students have just begun their research, so they don’t have enough examples of primary sources or know their stories well enough yet. This is an evolving part of the process. The idea is not to make a final product NOW, but begin visualizing, let your research breathe life into it, and rethink your design as you build and learn about your topic. This is an example of the Design-Thinking Process.

  • Exhibits and Websites should be drawn out. Give your imagination life so I can see you planning for success.
  • Documentaries and Performances should have an outline or use google slides featuring a scene-by-scene outline of what your final film will feature. (this may not be possible at this point; discuss with Mr. Little)
  • Research papers should provide an outline. (this may not be possible at this point; discuss with Mr. Little)

This is a brief overview of the guidelines for each project. Please visit the HF website @  for more specific information and guidelines. Students are accountable for following all rules! Visit the NHD website to see some specific examples of how these projects could look!  I’d also suggest visiting other states, such as Minnesota’s highly successful NHD program, to view their examples.


  • Best for projects with high-quality images, primary soruces, etc.
  • Should be “museum-like,” meaning, small chunks of text accompanying visuals or artifacts.
  • Size limitations: 6 feet high X 40 inches wide X 30 inches deep. Exhibits must be free standing.
  • Be creative! Do something different, not just the standard tri-fold (though that’s okay, too!). Reimagine that space and take a chance.
  • Use between 750-1,000 words (headings not included).
  • Examples here, too:


  • Best for projects with high-quality images, videos, etc. Should be interactive, not an electronic exhibit.
  • Must use the NHD Weebly website editor at
  • Must contain no more than 1,200 words. (does not count quotes, references, & sources)
  • All media must be pre-created… in other words, students cannot produce their own photo, film, or other media to put on their project.
  • Project may not exceed 100 MB total.


  • Performance may not exceed ten minutes.
  • Dramatic performances and props/scenery must be created and performed entirely by the students registered. Costumes and a “set” are strongly recommended.
  • Students are given five minutes to set up, five minutes to take down any sets.
  • Script and lines must be memorized.


  • Best for partners and/or groups… requires a large number of photos, visuals, or videos to do well.
  • Must be 9-10 minutes long. Time begins when first image/sound appears and concludes after credits.
  • Documentaries must be researched, created, narrated, and produced by the students registered.
  • Documentaries conclude with a list of credits for major audio and visuals sources only. The simple credits do not replace an annotated bibliography.
  • Documentaries should be self-running and students must operate all equipment. No live narration is allowed. Powerpoint projects are not documentaries.

Research Paper:

  • Individuals only. No groups or partners. Best 4 will advance to the Chicago Metro Fair.
  • Papers may be 1500-2500 words in length (refers to the body of the text only–not the additional components).
  • The paper is preceded by a cover page (title and student name only), thesis statement, and outline. It concludes with an annotated bibliography which is divided by primary and secondary sources. These pages are not included in the word count.
  • Best for topics that have good information, but limited visuals. Great for students who love to write.