Categories

Documentary
Exhibit
Paper
Performance
Website
How to Create a Documentary

A documentary should reflect your ability to use audiovisual equipment to communicate your topic’s significance. The documentary category will help you develop skills in using photographs, film, video, audio, computers, and graphic presentations. Your presentation should include primary source materials and also must be an original production. To produce a documentary, you must have access to equipment and be able to operate it.

How is a Documentary Different from Other Categories?

Creating a documentary is different from other categories because of the technology necessary. Before deciding to create a documentary, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I interested in using computers, cameras, and other technologies?
  • Can I conduct and record interviews (for the purpose of including film clips in the documentary)?
  • Can I find film clips to use in my documentary?
  • Are there enough still photographs related to my topic available that I can use in my documentary?
  • Do I have access to equipment that will be needed to make a documentary?
  • Is creating a documentary the best way to show off my topic?
Getting Started
  • Create a documentary notebook. Use this to write down all of your ideas and keep your research organized. Watch historical documentaries and write a list of what you think makes a great historical documentary.
  • Make sure you have the necessary technology. This includes access to:
    • a computer,
    • a video camera, and
    • editing software.
  • Research the topic first. Examine secondary and primary sources, taking careful notes and keeping track of which source each piece of information came from. From your research, you should come up with your thesis – the argument you want to make with your documentary.
  • Keep a database. It is important that you have a database where you keep track of all of the information you are gathering. A database is simply any place where you can collect and easily access your sources and production materials.
  • Create a timeline. Before you jump into your project, it is a good idea to create a preliminary timeline of when you want to finish important steps along the way, especially the start and end dates of pre-production, research, production, and post-production.
  • Create a budget. On the practical side, you need to have a sense of the costs of doing this project. Remember you don’t have to break the bank to make a film. Spending more money does not make a film better in quality.
Process Paper

A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).

National Contest Student Documentary Examples

Junior Group

The Americans Are Very Strong

Student(s):

Molly McLaughlin & Olivia Romig

When Ballet Came to America

Student(s):

Genevieve Haskins & Eleanor McCoy

Senior Group

Introducing Americans to America

Student(s):

Sydney Dye & Caroline Murphy

Reconstructing Korea's Crippled Economy: Korean Miners and Nurses in Germany

Student(s):

Sunny Chung Lee, Jeanie Lee, James Pierog & Miriam Son

Senior Individual

Marshall Islands: A Culture Damaged through Scientific Exploration and Encounters with Western Civilization

Student(s):

Rebekah Love

The Journey of Sugar: Neither Short nor Sweet

Student(s):

Aditya Ailiani

Documentary Rules Verification Sheet

This check-off sheet will guide you as you review your entry to make sure you have followed the NHD rules for the Documentary category

NHD Evaluation Form
How to Create a Exhibit

An exhibit is a visual representation of your research and interpretation of your topic’s significance in history. The analysis and interpretation of your topic must be clear and evident to the viewer. Labels and captions should be used creatively with visual images and objects to enhance the message of your exhibit.

How is a Exhibit Different from Other Categories?

The exhibit category is three dimensional and is displayed on a physical structure. Exhibits use color, images, documents, objects, graphics, and design, as well as words, to tell your story. Exhibits can be interactive experiences by asking viewers to play music, look at a video, or open a door or window to see more documents or photos.

Getting Started
  • Research the topic first. Do your secondary research first. Reading secondary resources will help you understand your subject more completely, point you to primary sources, and assist you in selecting the important points you want to investigate and the key questions you want to ask.
  • Select items to put on the exhibit. You won’t be able to use all the materials you find while doing your research. As you think about what to put on the exhibit, ask yourself the following questions:
    • Does the item fit in with the NHD theme and the theme of your exhibit?
    • Does the item advance the story you are trying to tell?
    • Is the document you are thinking of displaying too long or too wordy? Is it easy to read and understand? Will it take up too much space on your exhibit?
    • Is the item visually interesting?
    • What images best tell your story?
    • Do you want to include artifacts in your exhibit?
    • Will your exhibit contain audiovisual materials?
  • Prepare the script. Writing your titles, text, and labels is often referred to as writing the script. Like all good writing, your exhibit script needs to be grammatically correct, use good sentence structure, make wise word choices, and contain no spelling errors. You should expect to write several drafts. Exhibit labels are brief, so they need to be clear and concise.
Process Paper

A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).

National Contest Student Exhibit Examples

Junior Group

An Old Enemy Becomes New - World War I's Deadliest Killer

Student(s):

Spandana Amirneni & Abeedah Hassan

The Apollo-Soyuz Mission: Launching a Unified Exchange

Student(s):

Tara Ampolinu, Callie Elms, Mehek Jain & Trinity Yeo

Junior Individual

Brainstorm! William James - Pioneer of the Mental Frontier

Student(s):

Parket Nickels

How the US Dollar Rebuilt the World

Student(s):

Rudy Moise

Senior Individual

A City Under Siege: Delivering Hope One Flight at a Time on the Airbridge to Berlin

Student(s):

Hannah Scott

Breaking Biological Boundaries: Rosalind Franklin and the Experimental Foundation of the Double Helix Theory

Student(s):

Michaila Peters

Senior Group

Fifteen Cents to See the Infants on Display

Student(s):

Jennifer Gilby & Gabrielle Hines

Exhibit Rules Verification Sheet

This check-off sheet will guide you as you review your entry to make sure you have followed the NHD rules for the Exhibit category

NHD Evaluation Form
How to Create a Paper

A paper is the traditional form of presenting historical research. Various types of creative writing (for example, fictional diaries, poems, etc.) are permitted, but must conform to all general and category rules. Your paper should be grammatically correct and well written.

How is a Paper Different from Other Categories?

A paper is a highly personal and individual effort, and if you prefer to work alone this may be the category for you. Papers depend almost entirely on words to tell the story, and you can usually include more information in a paper than in some of the other categories.

Getting Started
  • Conduct your research. Examine secondary and primary sources, taking careful notes and keeping track of where each piece of information originated. From your research, you should come up with your thesis – the argument you want to make in your paper.
  • Make an outline. Using your notes, you can create a list of the main points you want to include in your paper, where each piece of information will go, and in what order. This will help when you sit down and start to write your paper.
  • Start writing. You might begin by writing your introduction in which you state your thesis.
    • Introduction: your introduction should tell the reader where you intend to go with the rest of your paper.
    • Body: the main body of your paper is where you can make the case for your conclusion and present your evidence, the primary sources, and your analysis of how they support your thesis.
    • Conclusion: your conclusion is like the summary of your paper. It should summarize your main points that prove your thesis.
  • Read and revise. A polished product takes time, so it is important to re-read and revise your paper. Check for clarity, unity, and coherence. Is it clear how your topic relates to the NHD theme? Does your conclusion flow logically from your thesis?
Process Paper

A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).

National Contest Student Paper Examples

Junior

From Hopeless to Heroic: The Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

Student(s):

Flora Ranis

The European Organization for Nuclear Research: Exploration, Encounter and Exchange Through Nuclear Physics

Student(s):

Owen Barr

Senior

A Pure Invention: Japan, Impressionism, and the West, 1853-1906

Student(s):

Amir Abou-Jaoude

The Black Death, an Unforeseen Exchange: Europe's Encounter with Pandemic Sparked an Age of Exploration

Student(s):

Camryn Franke

Paper Rules Verification Sheet

This check-off sheet will guide you as you review your entry to make sure you have followed NHD rules for the Paper category.

NHD Evaluation Form
How to Create a Performance

A performance is a dramatic portrayal of your topic’s significance in history and must be an original production. It should be scripted based on research of your chosen topic and should have dramatic appeal, but not at the expense of historical information.

How is a Performance Different from Other Categories?

The performance category is the only one that is presented live. Developing a strong narrative that allows your subject to unfold in a dramatic and visually interesting way is important. Memorizing, rehearsing, and refining your script is essential, so you should schedule time for this in addition to research, writing, costuming and prop gathering.

Getting Started
  • Consider individual versus group. Decide whether the chosen topic will be most effective as a group or as an individual performance.
  • Research the topic first. Write down important facts or quotes that may be important to the performance. Write a thesis statement, supporting statements and a conclusion. Think about how these might become part of your performance.
  • Prepare a script. Brainstorm with general ideas and how they might be presented. If a group is performing, each member should describe different ways in which characters might interact.
    • Make sure your script contains references to the historical evidence found in your research.
    • Using actual dialogue, quotations, or brief excerpts from speeches are good ways to put historical detail into your performance.
    • Remember that your script should center on the thesis statement, supporting statements, and the conclusion that you developed from your research.
  • Prepare the set. Think about different types of sets that might help depict your topic. Is there a prop that is central to the story?
  • Prepare the blocking. To “block” a performance is to determine where the actors will stand, move, and/or relate to the set. You should think about these movements when deciding what type of set to design.
  • Prepare the costuming. Good costumes help make a performer convincing, but make sure they are appropriate to the topic. You do not need to purchase or make an elaborate costume – sometimes simple works best (For example, a white shirt and dark pants/skirt can fit almost any time period).
  • Practice, practice, practice! Work on speaking clearly, pronouncing all words correctly, and projecting your voice so that the judges and the audience can hear every word. Rehearse with the set and full costumes as often as possible.
Process Paper

A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).

National Contest Student Performance Examples

Junior Group

Route 66: The Road of Possibilities

Student(s):

Jack Anderson, Jader Briggs, Daytona Foley, Logan Smith & Megan Swancutt

Senior Group

American Exodus: The Okies' Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in the San Joaquin Valley

Student(s):

Matthew Clark, Austin Cozzi, Kelsey Ewing, Sydney Fox & Allison Hodge

Senior Individual

Exploring and Exchanging Rhythms: Master Juba and the Early History of Tap Dance

Student(s):

Elisa Trujillo

On Track to Citizenship: The Exploration, Encounter and Symbolic Exchange of the Wanamaker Expedition of Citizenship to the North American Indian

Student(s):

Isabella Bowland

Performance Rules Verification Sheet

This check-off sheet will guide you as you review your entry to make sure you have followed NHD rules for the Performance category.

NHD Evaluation Form
How to Create a Website

The website category is the most interactive of all NHD categories. A website should reflect your ability to use website design software and computer technology to communicate your topic’s significance in history. Your historical website should be a collection of web pages, interconnected by hyperlinks, that presents both primary and secondary sources and your historical analysis. To engage and inform viewers, your website should incorporate interactive multimedia, text, non-textual descriptions (e.g., photographs, maps, music, etc.), and interpretations of sources. To construct a website, you must have access to the Internet and be able to operate appropriate software and equipment.

How is a Website Different from Other Categories?

Websites can display materials online, your own historical analysis as well as primary and secondary sources. Websites are interactive experiences where viewers can play music, look at a video or click on different links. Viewers can freely navigate and move through the website. Websites use color, images, fonts, documents, objects, graphics and design, as well as words, to tell your story.

Getting Started
  • Research your topic first. Examine primary and secondary sources. From this research, create your thesis. This will be the point that you want to make with your historical website.
  • Narrow in on the content of your website. Decide what information you want to incorporate in your web pages, such as any photos, primary documents, or media clips you may have found. You should be sure to have plenty of supporting information for your thesis.
  • Create your website with the NHD Site Editor.Click here to begin the registration process.
  • Consider organization and design.
    • Keep it simple: don’t waste too much time on bells and whistles. Tell your story and tell it straight.
    • Borrow ideas from other websites: find design elements that work and imitate them on your website. Just remember to give credit where credit is due.
    • Make sure every element of your design points back to your topic, thesis, and/or time period. There should be a conscious reason for every choice you make about color, typeface, or graphics.

PLEASE NOTE – If you converted your website to save from previous contest years, you will need to use a new email address to create an account for the 2015 contest. The email address is optional and only used to recover passwords in the event of forgotten or lost passwords.

With so many complaints in the past regarding the Scrib.d element on NHD Weebly, we have removed this element and recommend students post their bibliographies and process papers as PDF files on their websites, using the ‘File’ element under ‘Media’. Please visit the following website created by former NHD participant, Christopher Su, for helpful tips and guides: NHD Website Resources

If you have any further questions please email IT@nhd.org with your current URL and login information. If you have lost your login information, cannot convert your standard Weebly to NHD Weebly, or need an account recovered please email nhdsupport@weebly.com.

Process Paper

A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).

National Contest Student Website Examples

Junior Group

Feminists in Flight: Exploring Gender Equality at 32,000 Feet

Student(s):

Sophia Burick & Kelly McDonald

Unit 731: Perpetrators of the Asian Holocaust

Student(s):

Aman Agarwal & Daksh Gopalani

Senior Group

China's Surge into Silk: The Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange of the Silk Road

Student(s):

Tigan Donaldson & Brian Ely

The Visionary Exploration of Jacques Cousteau: Changing Perceptions of the Ocean through Undersea Encounters

Student(s):

Sovigne Gardner & Grace Gardner

Senior Individual

Ada Lovelace, The Enchantress of Computing: Exploring the Beginnings of the Information Evolution

Student(s):

Denisse Cordova

Duel and Duality: New Journalism, New York

Student(s):
Website Rules Verification Sheet

This check-off sheet will guide you as you review your entry to make sure you have followed NHD rules for the Website category.

NHD Evaluation Form
Weebly Conversion

Learn how to convert your NHD Weebly website into a standard Weebly site. (Note that all NHD websites are erased on September 1st)