Michigan History Day is an annual competition run by the Historical Society of Michigan. It is part of the National History Day program. The students compete at two levels before they get to the State level. The students had to win their school competition and district competition before coming to be judged at the state level. The state level, grades 6-12, winners in each category go on to compete at National History Day at University of Maryland-College Park.
The students choose a topic of their interest that relates to the theme for the year. The 2015-2016 theme, "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History" was a broad theme that students could interpret how they wanted. The students did not have to choose a topic that fit all three elements; they just had to tell or show how it related to the theme.
The students could competed in one of five categories:
- Individual papers
- Individual or group exhibits
- Individual or group performance
- Individual or group documentary
- Individual or group website
I was part of the Junior Division Group Exhibits team. I was blown away to say the least. The entry's were spectacular. I wasn't sure how we were going to pick two finalists and one alternate, but we had to, so we did. The Junior group exhibits were divided into three judge teams, with seven exhibits per team.
The judging team's job was to evaluate the entries based on the historical accuracy (60%), relation to theme (20%) and clarity of presentations (20%). The judges had a 15 minute time frame to review a process paper, interview the group, and jot down notes. We were busy from the time our feet hit the gym floor, where the exhibits were held. The main goal of the day was "to encourage the students to keep learning by providing constructive feedback in a positive environment."
These were the seven entries I had the pleasure to judge. The quality of these exhibits was outstanding. The meat of the exhibits was in the written word, which is hard to see in the pictures, but believe me every one of the seven exhibits conducted research at an advanced level.