History: What do you know, and how do you know it?
Each year, half a million middle and high school students "examine primary and secondary sources," analyze a historical subject and "present their findings in papers, documentaries, performances, exhibits and websites, writes Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post.
Founded in 1974 and modeled on science fairs, National History Day "aims to teach historical methods rather than a particular narrative," she writes.
Students are encouraged "to look at what makes sources valid or untrustworthy — essential in this moment of widespread misinformation."
"As they advance through local and state rounds, these young researchers get feedback from judges — usually teachers, historians, librarians and citizens — on how to broaden their exploration and sharpen their analysis."
"Many explore painful episodes and thorny questions of injustice," Rosenberg writes. One eighth-grader "interviewed a woman, Carolyn Maull, who at a similar age had survived the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963."
Rosenberg helped judge the finals in June.
National History Day also runs Sacrifice for Freedom, which encourages student-teacher teams to research World War II veterans from their states and write their eulogies.
"Her first viral hit was a Gen Z history lesson on the Russian Revolution, which gained 1 million views on Instagram and then another million views on TikTok," she writes. "Cella says that she chalked it up to luck, but then her next video on the French Revolution reached 2 million views."