Students 6th-12th grade present their History Day projects at UMD

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Dozens of students from schools throughout northeastern Minnesota arrived at UMD for History Day. Students in 6th–12th grades began with the 2023 theme, “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas”. Their exhibits, documentaries, websites, and performances on topics ranging from the Development of Taconite to the Cheetah Blade: A New Frontier for Amputees to the WASP: A Frontier to Women in the Air Force.

Sarah Aschbrenner, a co-coordinator of History Day in Minnesota talked about the event. “You realize everything has a history. And so they find the topic that they’re passionate about and they get to sort of dig in. It’s often something that’s not in their textbooks or they don’t get to study quite as in-depth, and so they get to follow that passion.” Aschbrenner said. “Having the competition back in person is that we’re able to interview the students, they talk with other members of the community, and that’s just something we couldn’t do during COVID. I think that the skills that students develop during doing History Day are really applicable not just in the classroom, but as they progress their careers or they go into further education.”

Students from schools in northeastern Minnesota also talked about why they were interested in History Day. Will Packer and Evan Meyer, 11th grade students from East Duluth High school talked about their project with the military. “So we did the F117 Nighthawk, which is a stealth aircraft. And so our frontier was stealth technology in aircraft. It was really interesting to learn more about more niche area that I don’t know a whole lot about currently.” Packer said.

Eva Snellman, another 11th grade student from East Duluth High school talked about History Day with her partner Lucy Stevenson. “Our teacher said if we did History Day and we made it to regents we get an automatic A on our final.” Snellman said “We were also interested in learning about history.” Stevenson said. “We did the Women’s March on Versailles. Which is like a moment that kind of initiated the spark of the French Revolution, which ultimately led to democratic reforms in France and across Europe. Then ultimately across the whole world.”

National History Day in Minnesota is a co-curricular historical research program that builds college readiness and communication skills for middle and high school students. The program is a partnership of the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts.

Winners at regionals will advance to State History Day on Saturday, April 22, at the University of Minnesota. State winners are eligible to compete at National History Day in Washington, DC in June. View a list of all regional contests here.

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