This experience will be quite manageable (and more enjoyable) if you work consistently over a long period of time. Research is a process, not an overnight or weekend event! I will try to stick to this timetable as closely as possible.
Project introduction and Theme overview reading – August
Read over the NHD project materials online and develop questions about this awesome experience. In addition, read the theme handout to get a good idea about the focus of National History Day this year.
Big Decision #1 – Individual or Partner – September
You should weigh the pros and cons of working as an individual and working with a partner or partners. If you choose to work with partners, choose wisely! Partners do not have to be in your same history class period. Partners will need to sign and present a partner contract. Partnerships can be dissolved early in the project experience, but it becomes much more difficult as the weeks and months pass.
Big Decision #2 – Topic and resource browsing and selection – September
Consult the topic sheet handout, with topic suggestions from a variety of sources. Browse your textbook and talk to some adults about ideas for a topic. Make sure you select a topic that interests you, is narrow, applies to the theme, has historical significance, and has sufficient primary and secondary resources. You must fill out the Topic Selection Sheet by mid-September. If you are choosing to work in a group for the project, you and your group members should hand in one topic selection sheet.
Finding Resources and Skeleton bibliography – Rocktober
Your research will only be as good as your resources – so find some great ones! Think about all of the possible resources that you can use IN ADDITION to books and the internet – interviews, artifacts, documentary movies, historical sites, museums … the list goes on! As you find and acquire resources for your topic, you will want to create a basic bibliography for your materials. Make sure you are separating your resources into primary resources and secondary resources. Guidelines for this basic bibliography will be provided in late September, and it must be typed in proper form and turned in mid-Rocktober. Make sure you keep the file, as it will serve as the foundation of your final annotated bibliography. You may choose to drop and add resources during your research. A group only needs to turn in one skeleton bibliography.
Outside Resource check – November
This is probably the easiest part of the entire project. By the day after Thanksgiving Break, you have to prove that you have met with Mrs. E and one other outside resource person. The form is simple, and the meetings are essential to a successful project.
Research and Organization check – November
You should have assembled a decent amount of notes by this time and have your notes organized in some manner that works for you (and your group, if it applies). Your notes and organization will be checked in November.
Big Decision #3 – Project/Category selection – December
After your have a decent amount of research completed, you should be able to determine which project format is best suited for your topic, your talents, and your thesis. You may also want to select a topic based on the possible competition, both in school and at the Regional Contests in March. Remember that groups cannot select the Paper category. A Project Selection Sheet must be filled out by Thanksgiving Break.
Project Plan or Outline – December
You should be well on your way in conducting your research, and you should be formulating an outline of your actual project. Each category will have a different format for an outline, available from the USM NHD website. Students can develop their own format, as long as it is detailed and complete.
Project work and completion – January
All projects, process papers, and annotated bibliographies should be completed by the end of January in order for them to be evaluated in time for the USM History Day exposition in late February. Students will be given time in school to work together, including a large block of time on one of the traditional exam days in January.
USM History and Science Exposition – February
All History Day projects and Science Fair projects will be shared in the evening, depending on winter sports schedules. All young historians are expected to attend. Improvements to evaluated projects should be made by this time and submitted for re-evaluation. At the Expo, selections will be made for the Regional Competition at UWM in March.
Regional History Day Contest – March 5
The regional competition at UWM takes place in early March. USM competitors will be selected in February. Up to five entrants are eligible for each category, along with an alternate.
State History Day Contest – April 23
The state competition in Madison takes place on Saturday, April 23. Finalists selected at the Regional Contests are eligible to compete.
National History Day contest – June
The national competition takes place in Maryland during June.