History Day Contests: Why Participate?
Not every student who creates a History Day project participates in a History Day contest. History Day contests are not mandatory.
So why enter a History Day contest? Many students are motivated by the possibility of advancing from their school contest to the regional and state History Day contests. The chance to win medals, prizes, a trip to D.C., or scholarships at the national level also inspires some participants.
But there are also students who participate in History Day contests who actively dislike competition.
Yet contests work for both types of students!
That’s because the contest experience:
- Gives students a platform for sharing research with their communities.
- Creates an audience that extends beyond the classroom. Students know that judges and other community members will view their final project.
- Turns the tables, allowing students to assume the roles of teacher and expert. By discussing their projects with judges, peers, and others, students often realize just how much they’ve learned. And they see the value of that learning to their community.
- Results in constructive feedback through judges’ written comments. Students can use this feedback to improve their project the following year or, if they advance, the next contest.
In short, History Day contests make student learning visible. These events honor hard work and showcase student achievement to the community.
The National History Day program has four contest levels:
- School events and history fairs (often held in February)
- Regional History Day contests (usually held in February or March)
- State Affiliate Contest (held in April)
- NHD National competition (held in mid- to late- June)
Contest entries are divided into two divisions: Junior (grades 6-8) and Senior (grades 9-12).
Within each division, entries fall into five project categories: documentary, exhibit, historical paper, performance, and website.
And for every project category other than historical papers, students can enter individually or as part of a group with up to five members.
|Junior Division (Grades 6-8)||Senior Division (Grades 9-12)|
|Individual Website||Group Website||Individual Website||Group Website|
|Individual Exhibit||Group Exhibit||Individual Exhibit||Group Exhibit|
|Individual Documentary||Group Documentary||Individual Documentary||Group Documentary|
|Individual Performance||Group Performance||Individual Performance||Group Performance|
|Individual Historical Paper||Individual Historical Paper|
Entries in each category, division, and type of project (group or individual), compete only against other entries in the same category/division/group or individual. Thus a Senior Group Exhibit entry competes only against other Senior Group Exhibits.